The family of Michael Jackson has been told by state officials that it may be possible to bury the singer at Neverland Ranch — if the county gives the green light.
Officials with Santa Barbara County, the site of the ranch, said Thursday that they have not yet been approached, and it was not clear whether the family had decided to pursue that option. A lawyer from the Jackson family contacted state officials recently about possibly burying Jackson at the ranch that was his home for almost two decades, said Amanda Fulkerson of California’s State and Consumer Services Agency. To bury someone on private land in California is a two-step process. First, a certificate of authority is needed from the state Cemetery and Funeral Bureau — easily obtainable by filling out a two-page application and paying $400. Next, the family needs approval from the county. No one from the Jackson camp has contacted county authorities yet, said county spokesman William Boyer. “We have had no formal application either from the Jackson family or from the property owner,” said Boyer, the communications director for the county. “At that point, we would review the application and make a determination.” Boyer said Santa Barbara county has never been approached about burial on private land.
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California has had burials outside cemeteries, most notably that of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan at his presidential library in Ventura County’s Simi Valley. Jackson’s brother Jermaine said he’d like to see the singer buried at the ranch. But their father, Joe Jackson, said he opposes the site. The rest of the family has expressed no preference about Jackson’s final resting place. Michael Jackson died June 25 of a cardiac arrest. The exact cause of death is pending toxicology results. Jackson purchased the Neverland Ranch — named for the fictional world in J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” — in 1987 and filled it with animals and amusement rides. Billionaire Tom Barrack Jr. gained control of the ranch through his company last year as part of a process to alleviate the singer’s debts, believed to be in the millions. Soon after Jackson’s death, Barrack said the property’s future would be discussed at a later time.