LOS ANGELES – A judge here has removed Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, as temporary special administrator of the singer’s estate, replacing her with two men named as co-executors in Mr. Jackson’s 2002 will.
A woman celebrated on Monday after picking up tickets in Los Angeles for a memorial to Michael Jackson at the Staples Center.
More than 1.6 million people registered for 8,750 pairs of free tickets to the Michael Jackson memorial service at the Staples Center.
Mrs. Jackson, 79, was granted limited powers last week over her son’s estate before the will was discovered. At a hearing Monday in Superior Court here, her lawyers asked that she be appointed to serve as a co-administrator with the executors, John Branca, a lawyer, and John McClain, a music executive and longtime friend of the singer. They questioned whether Mr. Branca might have a conflict of interest, and asked the judge allow more time to investigate the circumstances around the writing of the 2002 will.
“It’s just too soon to turn over unfettered fiduciary discretion” to Mr. Branca and Mr. McClain, said Burt Levitch, one of Mrs. Jackson’s lawyers.
But Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff denied the request.
Another hearing on the estate is scheduled for Aug. 3, and Judge Beckloff said he would then revisit the question of who should be appointed permanent administrator.
In the 2002 will, which Mr. Jackson initialed 10 times on the right margin, he also named another person, Barry Siegel, as a third co-executor. But a court filing by Mr. Branca and Mr. McClain said Mr. Siegel had resigned from the position in 2003. The will was filed in court last Wednesday.
In the will, Mr. Jackson gave the executors full power over his financial matters, including the buying and selling of assets, the continuation of his ‘business enterprises,’ and the selling, leasing or mortgaging of his property.
Mr. Branca helped the singer acquire a 50 percent stake in the Sony/ATV Music Publishing catalog. The company owns the rights to more than 200 Beatles songs, along with thousands of others – valued at more than $500 million.
The value of Mr. Jackson’s estate, mostly in holdings other than cash, is estimated in excess of $500 million, but the singer also carried unspecified debt as his career foundered in recent years, in part over accusations of child molestation. Although acquitted of criminal charges in 2005, he struggled to revive his career and had planned a series of concerts beginning this summer as a comeback.
Monday’s hearing was originally supposed to focus on who should have custody of Mr. Jackson’s children, but Judge Beckloff delayed that matter to July 13.
Last week, the possibility of a custody dispute emerged after Debbie Rowe, Mr. Jackson’s former wife and the mother of two of his three children, told a Los Angeles television station that she wanted custody of those children. In 1999, she agreed that Mr. Jackson would have sole custody, according to court records. Later, Ms. Rowe’s lawyer, Eric George, said his client was not sure what she wanted to do.
The hearing took place one day before a memorial to Mr. Jackson at the downtown Staples Center, which has attracted intense interest among fans. Thousands of people are expected to attend and more than 1.6 million people registered for the 8,750 pairs of free tickets. Ticket winners were told to head to Dodger Stadium on Monday with a unique code and instructions to pick up tickets.