Tag: Jackson

11 Feb

Famous People That Cannot R.I.P.

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Everyone likes gossip. For those who place themselves in the public spotlight their privacy is constantly invaded, even after death. In an article entitled, “Dead People Science Won’t Let R.I.P.”, Joseph Calamia looks at famous people whose buried bodies have been exhumed. 

Bodies are exhumed for numerous reasons such as to determine the cause of death, to answer historical questions, or identify the deceased, if he or she was either not identified or misidentified at the time of burial.

I found Mr. Calamia’s article to be a little creepy, but nonetheless interesting. For instance, archaeologists discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 and subsequently learned that the 19-year-old pharaoh “wasn’t exactly the model of health.” Egyptian researchers learned from genetic testing “that inbreeding and disease may have left King Tut so crippled that he could barely walk.”

In an article entitled, “Michael Jackson’s Body Might Be Exhumed”, it has been suggested that Dr. Conrad Murray’s legal team may be considering exhuming Michael’s body to suggest that an overdosing of propofol was the least of Michael’s health concerns. 

It appears that even after death, there is no expectation of privacy for some. After numerous attempts were made to snatch the body of former U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln, it was decided that Lincoln’s coffin would rest in steel and concrete. Whatever happened to rest in peace?

Have a good weekend,

Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.

18 Aug

Michael Jackson Estate Litigation Continued…

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Bridging the gap between principle and common sense can be tough for parties involved in litigation.  

World renowned pop artist, Michael Jackson, died over one year ago on June 25, 2009.  As with most estate disputes, they tend to be costly both emotionally and financially, and this tends to be the focus of everyone watching, despite all the good deeds that one may have accomplished during his or her lifetime.

Over the past year, we have heard of issues surrounding the Guardianship of Michael’s children, his mother Katherine Jackson’s fight to be appointed as the executor for Michael’s estate, and illegitimate children coming out of the woodwork claiming to be dependants of Michael.

Most recently, in an entertainment column published by TVNZ, Michael’s father, Joe Jackson, has decided to appeal a court decision indicating that he had no right to object to the executors of his son’s will.  

Joe Jackson initially accused the executors of Michael’s estate, John Branca and John McClain, of fraud and embezzlement.  As Joe Jackson was not a beneficiary of Michael’s estate, the court held that he was unable to object to the executors of his son’s will.

Joe Jackson’s lawyers now argue that Joe was financially dependent on Michael and should therefore have a right to object to the appointment of the executors who control the financial decisions of Michael’s estate.  These claims of dependency are being refuted by the lawyer for Michael’s children.

As I indicated above, bridging the gap between principle and common sense can be tough for parties involved in litigation.  Is this the legacy that Michael Jackson would have wanted to leave when he died?

Thank you for reading,

Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.


30 Jun

Michael Jackson’s Estate Generates Approximately $1 Billion Since His Death

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For those who take an interest in music or pop culture, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, not to be aware of Michael Jackson’s demise on June 25, 2009. 

At the time of his death, there were reports that his estate was indebted and/or had pending liabilities in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It is interesting to note that his “empire” is now said to have earned an amount approaching $1 billion since his date of death. Whether these reports are true will have I suppose to be seen. However, if they are true, these astronomical revenue figures would apparently elevate Michael Jackson’s estate to within the top five top earning dead celebrities. 

With such alleged earnings, it is not surprising that the dispute apparently continues regarding his estate and the appointment of the trustees to his estate (apparently litigation continues as between the family and those appointed as executors (administrators) of his estate). Other disputes regarding issues over copyright belonging to Michael Jackson and his estate and his assets and his death would seem not to have an end in the near future. What does appear not to be in dispute though is that his estate will continue to generate incredible revenues.

Thanks for reading,

Craig R. Vander Zee – Click here for more information on Craig Vander Zee.

11 Sep

Tales from the Crypt

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I conclude my blog week by writing about the late Michael Jackson who was finally laid to rest on September 3, 2009. Ten long weeks after his death, Michael Jackson’s coffin was placed in a mausoleum in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, which is located outside of Los Angeles.

If reports are to be believed, his body has been placed in the Holly Terrace, which is a large hall at the centre of Forest Lawn’s monolithic grounds. Although the fascination of Michael Jackson will continue long after his death, the mausoleum is policed by private guards and is rumoured to be among the highest security resting places in the world.

There have been reports indicating that the price of grave-plots close to Michael Jackson’s tomb have gone up $2,000 – $3,000 in value since Michael Jackson joined the neighbourhood.

Some reports have indicated that some private parties have asked for substantially more, with one person rumoured to have asked for $34,000 for a double unit inside of the Michael Jackson mausoleum. Even after death, Michael is still making headlines, this time in the cemetery world.

Thank you for reading and I hope you have an enjoyable weekend!

Rick Bickhram

Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.

06 Jul

Testamentary Custody and Guardianship

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The sudden death of Michael Jackson has sent a shock-wave of sadness across the globe. I expect it will be some time before you can tune in to various media without seeing coverage on it. 

I find myself drawn in to the discussion, which one of my colleagues also blogged on last week.  His commentary focused on the expected complex administration of Jackson’s estate, given both his sizeable assets and debts. This blog focuses on one aspect of the human element of the tragedy, sparked by Jackson’s Will. 

As noted in a recent New York Times Article, in his Will Diana Ross is appointed as the guardian for Jackson’s children if his mother is no longer willing or able to fulfill that role. 

In Ontario, a custody or guardianship appointment by Will is not determinative of the issue. It only has a temporary effect, in that any appointment for custody or guardianship expires ninety-days after such appointment becomes effective (i.e. ninety-days from the date of death in this case) (see section 61(7) of the Children’s Law Reform Act). 

However, if the appointee applies to the court for custody or guardianship within the ninety-day period, the appointment expires when the application is disposed of.   While each case is usually fact-specific, I would expect that a testator’s wishes set out in his/her Will is a factor a court would give significant weight to when considering such an application.

In Jackson’s case this issue is already a live one, with potentially several people vying for custody and/or guardianship. It will be interesting to see who ends up being the primary caregiver(s) of his young children.

Have a great day,

Natalia Angelini

28 Jun

The Death of a Legend: Michael Jackson leaves loose ends

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Many people, including myself, paused on learning of Michael Jackson’s death.   While I have not searched out his music for several years, his death marks the end of an era. 

Michael Jackson’s music is part of my memory of growing up. I attended his concert in October 1984 at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.

Of course, in my role as an estate litigator, other thoughts also come to mind. Namely, what issues will arise in untangling Michael Jackson’s estate?

Some of these issues are addressed in a New York Times article. One executive describes the singer’s estate as a "mess".  There are clearly valuable assets, including a 50 percent share of Sony/ATV Music Publishing which owns the rights to more than 200 Beatles songs; this asset alone may be worth more than $500 million.  Apparently these shares were not owned directly by the pop star, but rather by a trust controlled by his mother.  The shares therefore may not fall to Michael Jackson’s  estate but they would be part of his legacy.

The estate has debts too: Neverland cost many millions of dollars to operate annually and in recent years there was a $24.5 million debt against the property. Some commentators estimate Michael Jackson’s overall debt to be $400 million. 

All of these issues – from copyright and real estate assets to Michael Jackson’s personal and business loans – will take many months, if not years, to sort out.   

There were recent plans for a 50-concert comeback in London, England. Apparently fans had paid $90 million which will have to reimbursed and the concert preparations included payments for renovations to the venue as well as advance payments to Michael Jackson. 

As the administration of Michael Jackson’s estate unfolds, I suspect there may be more related topics to be covered in our blog.

Of course, for us regular folks, estate issues that we encounter in our own lives will be simple in comparison to the challenges faced by the Jackson family.  But there are some lessons: careful management of one’s affairs and good planning will lessen the load on named executors and estate trustees. 

Enjoy your Monday. 



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