Jackson administrators retain control of estate
By Corinne Heller
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A judge on Friday extended control of Michael Jackson's financial affairs to the administrators of his multimillion-dollar estate for three months, but urged them to settle differences with the late singer's mother.
Katherine Jackson, 79, is a beneficiary of the estate, valued at some $400 million, along with the singer's three children and charities. Her lawyers have said she wants a greater say in decisions made by the administrators, Los Angeles attorney John Branca and businessman John McClain.
In July, about two weeks after the "Thriller" singer's sudden death on June 25, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff gave temporary control of the estate to Branca and McClain, co-executors of Jackson's 2002 will.
Beckloff has now extended the oversight of the administrators until January 4, and ruled the administrators have the ability to respond to any creditor claims.
"The judge has made it very clear that he'd love us to arrive at some settlement," Howard Weitzman, a lawyer for the estate, told reporters outside the courthouse.
"So I think he has given us a clear mandate on how he thinks we should proceed. If we can do it within his parameters, great. And if not, then there'll be a trial," Weitzman said.
Katherine Jackson was not present at Friday's hearing but Michael Jackson's father and her husband, Joseph Jackson, was.
Some decisions made over Michael Jackson's affairs since his death have prompted disputes between his mother and the administrators and have led to lengthy court hearings.
In one instance, Katherine Jackson objected to a plan for concert promoter AEG Live to mount a traveling exhibition of Jackson memorabilia.
In August, Branca and McClain were given the go-ahead to make a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to release a movie, "This is It," based on video of Jackson's rehearsals for concerts in London that would have begun last July.
Branca and McClain also have been able to grant permission for a reprint of Jackson's 1988 autobiography "Moonwalk."
Jackson died of a prescription drug overdose at age 50, and police are still investigating whether to press charges against any of several doctors who had treated him.
The singer left about $400 million in debts when he died, but he owned half of a music catalog with Sony/ATV, which like Sony Pictures is part of electronics and media company Sony Corp.. That catalog holds rights to songs by the Beatles and many other acts.
Jackson's assets are estimated to outweigh his debts by some $200 million, and Branca and McClain has said they expect album sales, licensing deals, business partnerships and the movie could boost the estate value by another $200 million.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Xavier Briand)