Michael Jackson's children's trust funds still unsettled

California residents and readers of this blog have probably seen coverage of the controversy surrounding the estate of Michael Jackson. Three years after his death, however, much more remains to be done in the probate of his estate.

A recent article noted that a trust fund set up for his three children has not yet been filled, as attorneys and accountants are still managing the estate's financial responsibilities to creditors, which are said to total over $100 million. Under Jackson's will, the children are to receive 50 percent of his estate, with the other half going to his mother, Katherine.

The executors of the estate have said that the trusts will be funded as soon as creditor claims and litigation cease. When that could happen is still anyone's guess, but it appears that the three Jackson children will see substantial inheritances in their lifetime.

Jackson established a trust that called for each child to reach the age of 21 before being entitled to distributions from the trust. At the ages of 30, 35 and 40 they will receive lump-sum distributions. In the meantime, the children, ages 15, 14 and 10, are not exactly in the poor house. Each month the children are the recipients of about $70,000 to pay for their expenses.

Estate administration can be a long and drawn-out process in some instances, particularly where there are many valuable assets and claims against the estate, as in Michael Jackson's case. It may come as no surprise to some that executors are still guiding his estate through probate years after his death. But Jackson did establish the estate planning framework to take care of his children. Although he may not have anticipated the disputes surrounding his estate after his death, he helped put in place the legal structure to deal with them if they should arise.

Source: NY Daily News, "Planned Trust fund for Jacko's kids remains empty," by James Desborough, Sept. 3, 2012

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