Celebrity probate case drags on

By November 15, 2010Uncategorized

Whether you are a fan of his music or not, you probably recall that Michael Jackson died in mid-2009.  In fact, immediately following his death, it was hard to pick up a newspaper or turn on a television without seeing another celebrity news story devoted to the subject.  And although it has been well over a year since he passed away, we are still seeing stories in the papers about the Michael Jackson saga.  Only now, instead of stories devoted to his life and times, we are seeing stories about the ongoing probate battle that is happening in California.  And, while probate differs from state to state, there is no reason why a similar situation couldn’t arise under the Arizona Probate Code.

At the center of this probate case is Michael Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson, who is challenging the administration of the estate.  Interestingly, Michael Jackson excluded his father from his will in 2002, so according to the terms of the will itself, Joe Jackson really does not have an interest in the estate.  But, perhaps because the estate has earned millions of dollars since Michael Jackson’s death, Joe Jackson has been persistent in his challenges.  To Joe Jackson’s chagrin, however, the court agreed with estate lawyers last week, and found that Joe Jackson lacks the requisite standing to intervene.  Of course, Joe Jackson is already speaking about appealing the case to the California Supreme Court, so we are likely to see more of this story unfold.

While not every probate case deals with estates of this size, there is at least one important principle we can derive from this celebrity case that is applicable to AZ probate law.  Namely, probate can be complicated, and can last for quite some time when there are parties involved who present challenges to the administration of the estate or the will itself.  And this is one of the many reasons why it is so important for personal representatives to recruit an Arizona probate lawyer to help them navigate Arizona probate law.