Entertainment behind the scenes
Michael Jackson estate administrators dismiss questions about legal will
Administrators of Michael Jackson’s estate on Wednesday dismissed questions about whether his legal will is valid, after the celebrity news website TMZ reported that his brother Randy Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton, a Jackson family confidant, raised questions about whether the pop star was in Los Angeles to sign the will on the date stated in the document.
Howard Weitzman, an attorney for administrators of the Jackson estate John Branca and John McClain, said in a statement, “Despite any claims to the contrary, we are confident Michael Jackson’s will is valid, that he signed it and that it reflects his wishes. All three witnesses listed on the will recall being present when Michael signed it.”
The will is important, because it names Branca and McClain as administrators of Jackson’s estate, and a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has relied on the will since Jackson’s June 25 death to put the Branca, an attorney, and McClain, a music executive, in charge of the estate.
The will, which is available to view here, bears Michael Jackson’s signature dated July 7, 2002. Another page of the will bears the words, “We declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on July 7th, 2002 at 5:00 pm, Los Angeles.” But TMZ has posted photos that show Michael Jackson was in New York the day before on July 6, 2002, where he publicly protested against Tommy Mottola, the former head of Sony Music Entertainment, in a dispute over how he was being treated as an artist.
TMZ has other photos of Jackson in New York on July 8, 2002. In several of the pictures, Jackson is appearing with the Rev. Al Sharpton. So far, no photos have surfaced of Jackson in New York on July 7, 2002, the date in question when he is believed to have signed the will.
Sharpton has weighed in on the question, in a statement through his spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger.
“We have reason to believe that Michael may have been in NY on the 7th and Rev. Sharpton will address this after he discusses it with the Jackson family,” Noerdlinger said in the statement. “Michael Jackson was with us in New York City on July 6th at our Harlem Headquarters and again for a summit with Rev. Sharpton, attorney Johnnie Cochran and others around the issue of artist rights a few days later on July 9th.”
There has been already been plenty of friction between the administrators and Jackson’s family over control of the estate, and the questions that Randy Jackson and Sharpton are raising appear to be the latest instance of that. Did Jackson simply hop on a plane from New York to sign the will in Los Angeles on July 7, 2002? It’s possible. But it’s also possible that the question will continue to be a point of contention in the coming days.