LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A judge on Friday ordered a probe into the care of Michael Jackson's three children as the late singer's brother accused executors of dirty tricks in a power struggle over the pop star's multi-million dollar estate.
Los Angeles Superior Court judge Mitchell Beckloff appointed a probate investigator to interview Prince Michael, 15, Paris, 14, and Blanket, 10, "on an unannounced basis" and report back to him about the children's welfare which has come under scrutiny in recent days.
Beckloff made the order as a family attorney proposed that the "Thriller" singer's mother Katherine, 82, share guardianship of the children with her nephew Tito Jackson Jr.
Tito, 34, was awarded temporary guardianship on Wednesday after Katherine took a prolonged and rumor-filled absence from the Jackson family's compound outside Los Angeles.
The Jackson matriarch returned home from Arizona on Thursday, after going on national television to deny speculation that she had been kidnapped by some of her adult children.
Katherine Jackson's attorney on Friday said the new arrangement for the care of the children would be formally presented to Beckloff next week.
Although the dispute over guardianship apparently neared a resolution, the dead pop singer's brother Randy continued his attack on the executors of Michael Jackson's lucrative estate.
Randy Jackson, who along with four other siblings last week claimed Jackson's signature on a will benefiting his mother and his children had been forged, accused the Jackson estate of trying to kill Katherine Jackson.
"The Estate is trying to isolate my Mother from her family JUST LIKE THEY DID TO MICHAEL, in order to propagate their lies, financial agendas and to protect a fraudulent will," Randy Jackson tweeted on Friday.
"It is my fear and belief, that they are trying to take my mother's life," he added.
Jackson, 50, died in June 2009 of an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol and his physician was convicted and jailed last year for giving Jackson the drug as a sleep aid.
Some members of the Jackson clan of eight remaining siblings have long maintained that their brother was killed by unknown persons wanting to get their hands on his musical fortune.
The two non-family executors of the estate, entertainment lawyer John Branca and music executive John McClaine, insist the will is valid. They declined to comment on Randy Jackson's latest claims.
Since Jackson's death, the estate has approved numerous projects including a posthumous concert rehearsal film "This Is It", and a Cirque du Soleil show. According to recent court documents, the estate has earned $475 million in gross profits since Jackson's death, and much of the singer's estimated $500 million debt has been paid off.
Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte; Desking by Andrew Hay