Eleven years after his death, you would assume that James Brown’s estate would have been settled by now. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Instead, things remain at a standstill.
It’s been more than a decade since Brown passed on, yet none of his money has been distributed to the beneficiaries of his will, which includes underprivileged children.
Brown passed away on Christmas Day 2006. However, rather than the estate being settled in 2007, more than 12 lawsuits have been filed since then.
For example, nine of his children and grandchildren have moved to the forefront to sue his widow (who is also the estate’s administrator.) The children and grandchildren contend that she made illegal back-room agreements in regards to the copyrights for many of his songs.
This doesn’t even take into consideration another lawsuit challenging whether the woman was actually married to Brown, as well as several that are simply contesting the will.
The Godfather of Soul was loved by many, however, his life was marred by everything from drug arrests to divorce and domestic violence charges. This lead, in some ways, to the first attempt by his children and grandchildren to overturn the will, as they stated that his drug use prevented him from making estate planning decisions in sound mind.
James Brown, just the same as everyone else, probably realized the importance of creating an estate plan. Unfortunately, there are times when mistakes are made and estates remain unsettled for many years. It will be interesting to see how this case plays out in the public eye as 2018 wears on.
Source: The New York Times, “Why Is James Brown’s Estate Still Unsettled? Ask the Lawyers,” Steve Knopper, Feb. 04, 2018