Michael Jackson's mom gets custody
By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson's 79-year-old mother was awarded custody of the singer's three children on Monday and given more time to spell out objections to having two music executives administer his multi-million dollar estate.
Judge Mitchell Beckloff officially admitted the pop singer's 2002 will into probate court and extended until October 2 the temporary control of the "Thriller" singer's estate granted to executors John Branca and John McClain.
Jackson's mother, Katherine, has asked for more say in guiding the matters of his estate, valued at more than $500 million in an attachment to his will, and Superior Court Judge Beckloff gave her until October 2 to come up with reasons why she should have greater input.
Lawyers for concert promoters AEG, which was behind the planned comeback tour of the King of Pop before his death in June, also filed papers asking to be named a party to estate hearings and to be kept informed of business decisions.
After the singer's sudden death from cardiac arrest on June 25, entertainment lawyer Branca and music executive McClain were given temporary control over the Jackson estate's business affairs and since then have worked to generate more income.
They won permission to reprint Jackson's 1988 autobiography "Moonwalk" and are putting together a deal with AEG for the sale of rehearsal video shot in Los Angeles before his death.
On Monday, lawyers for Katherine Jackson said in court that they had concerns over the health of Branca and McClain, and of possible conflicts of interest, but did not go into details.
Beckloff gave her lawyers more time to specify their concerns, but said he wanted the issue settled soon because creditors will begin filing claims against the estate.
"I would hate to get into the situation where we are having creditors' claims being filed and we have disagreements among ourselves about who is at the helm of the ship," he said.
Jackson left his estate to a family trust that benefits his mother, his children and charities.
Meanwhile, Beckloff approved a custody arrangement worked out between Katherine Jackson and the pop star's ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, which gives Jackson custody and Rowe visitation rights.
He also agreed to provide Katherine Jackson an allowance paid by the singer's estate and a separate allowance for the three children. The amount was not released.
The "Thriller" singer had said in his will that he wanted his mother to care for Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and Prince Michael II, 7.
In a surprise move, a lawyer for Jackson's dermatologist, Dr Arnold Klein, said Klein wanted a say on the custody issue because he had "unique interests" in respect to the children.
Klein has been the subject of unconfirmed rumors in celebrity media that he was the sperm donor of Jackson's two children with Rowe, a nurse who once worked for him.
Beckloff said however that the "conclusive presumption" was that Jackson and Rowe were the parents and that Klein would have to file legal papers if he wanted to press his case.
The biological mother of Prince Michael II, also known as Blanket, has never been revealed.
The cause of Jackson's death is still awaiting toxicology tests and an investigation by Los Angeles police and U.S. drug agents into the possible role of drug use and doctors who were prescribing medication to the singer.
Dean Hansell, an attorney for Katherine Jackson, said in court "there may be an interest the LAPD has in at least one issue" regarding AEG's contract with the Jackson camp.
Hansell did not say what that issue was, but an attorney for Dr. Conrad Murray, the personal doctor to Jackson who is at the center of a police probe into the pop star's death, has said that AEG paid for Murray's services.
(Editing by Sandra Maler)