The two men running Michael Jackson’s estate gained new powers and an extension of their authority until the end of the year in a court hearing Friday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff also accepted an investigator’s report that said Jackson’s three children are adjusting well under the guardianship of Katherine Jackson. “It looks like the children are really doing wonderfully with their grandmother guardian,” Beckloff said. Joe Jackson sat in the courtroom for the hearing on estate and custody matters. It was the first time Michael Jackson’s father has attended the hearings since his son’s June 25 death. John Branca and John McClain, named as executors of Jackson’s 2002 will, have been handling the estate’s business as temporary special administrators since July while the will probate process is completed. Branca was a longtime attorney for Michael Jackson, who was rehired by the pop star just a week before his death, according to estate lawyer Howard Weitzman. McClain is a former music industry executive who worked with Jackson for years. Katherine Jackson’s challenge of Branca and McClain appears headed for a trial in December, unless an agreement is reached between them. Her lawyers have not publicly given their objections to the two men, but have suggested the trial would explore possible conflicts of interest that would prevent them from running the estate.
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Jackson’s lawyers have also said a Jackson family member should be included as an executor. While Joe Jackson did not speak to reporters after the hearing, a Jackson family friend, Majestik Magnificent, talked about the special administrators. “Why are they even here Why are they even involved in this This is a family affair,” he said. Until now, the administrators had to ask for court approval for every agreement they made for the estate, including a deal for a movie that will hit theaters at the end of October. “Things went well for the estate, because the estate can now continue to do it’s business,” Weitzman said after the hearing. Beckloff said that while the case is fascinating, his calendar is too full for him to be involved in all of the estate’s business. With their new powers, the special administrators only have to notify the court and the Jacksons about deals. Michael Jackson’s mother and three children, along with unnamed charities, are the beneficiaries of the estate, which is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. An odd moment came in the hearing when a woman who has previously filed a papers claiming to be the mother of Michael Jackson’s youngest child, Prince Michael II, spoke up to remind the judge she was there. She says her name is Billie Jean Jackson. At the end of the hearing, Joe Jackson approached her, but she frowned at him and walked away. Majestik Magnificent later wondered aloud why reporters even give any attention to “crazy” people surrounding the case.