The last will and testament of pop music superstar and cultural icon Michael Jackson seemed to indicate a fair degree of planning. Yet the specifics remain murky and many questions remain. Gene L. Osofsky, who specializes in Elder Law and Estate Planning, offers a few insightful comments about what the famous entertainer left behind.
Attorney Gene L. Osofsky, of the law firm Osofsky & Osofsky, was as much taken aback as the rest of us by the sudden and premature death of pop music superstar and cultural icon Michael Jackson at the age of 50. Unlike many middle-aged “baby-boomers,” Jackson did have a will drawn up, and it was even made public. The document aroused Osofsky’s curiosity. Like millions of Americans, the attorney specializing in Elder Law was somewhat familiar with the publicized particulars of Jackson’s turbulent life, and the release of a will was not entirely unexpected by Osofsky. “There was considerable media speculation about Michael Jackson and his will, and it seemed logical that he’d created one.” The will was five pages long, and shifted Jackson’s entire estate into an instrument called the Michael Jackson Family Trust. Still, it revealed little about Jackson Estate specifics or instructions about how his estate would be handled.
Jackson’s will wasn’t exempt from the law. Although a will can remain private while a person is alive, it becomes a matter of public record once it is submitted to the probate courts after a person dies. But a trust is usually a private document, and in most cases remains private. In Jackson’s case, the financial details are presumably all in the trust. There was a detail on page 4 of the five-page document that did catch the attorney’s eye. In paragraph 8 of his will, on page 4, just above his signature, Jackson states, “If any of my children are minors at the time of my death, I nominate my mother KATHERINE JACKSON, as guardian of the persons and estates of such minor children. If KATHERINE JACKSON fails to survive me, or is unable or unwilling to act as guardian, I nominate DIANA ROSS as guardian of the persons and estates of such minor children.”
Asserts Osofsky, “Whatever odd or inexplicable things Jackson may have done during his life, he seems to have taken steps to provide for his children’s care, financial needs and privacy after his death. That’s more than I can say for a lot of people.”