James Brown passed away on Christmas Day in 2006 and yet disputes surrounding the settlement of his estate are still winding their way through the courts. Numerous different individuals have come forward to file disputes ranging from whether or not his widow may have truly been his wife and whether any copyrights for his songs were included in what some allege are illegal backroom agreements.
Several suits have also been brought forward by people who can test the will and won by a person who thought they should have been appointed as the estate’s trustee. James Brown’s will had $2 million set aside to underwrite scholarships for his grandchildren and to distribute his household effects and costumes to the six children he recognized before he passed away. However, after the will was challenged, the initial attorney recommended a settlement that was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court. In that proposed settlement, the grandchildren and children would have received a quarter of the estate and the widower would receive another quarter.
The Supreme Court however, felt that this involved a dismemberment of the estate plan that James Brown put together. The value of the estate itself is also currently in contention. Some believe that it is less than $5 million but others have given estimates that all of the materials included in the estate and his assets articulated clearly in the will could be worth more than $100 million. The bulk of the value comes from the copyrights that he owned as the songwriter. If you would like to avoid challenges in your estate and give your family a clear plan for how to protect your assets in the future, set up a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer.