Michael Jackson's will sets family trust, funeral sketchy

Thu Jul 2, 2009 12:56am EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A will signed by Michael Jackson putting his multimillion-dollar estate in a trust for his children and mother was filed in court on Wednesday, as details of his highly-anticipated funeral remained sketchy.

Some media outlets reported a memorial service would take place this coming Tuesday at Los Angeles' Staples Center arena and others pointed to the city's Coliseum sports stadium, but a spokesman for Jackson's family could not confirm those reports nor could officials with the venues.

Jackson's family did issue a statement saying the pop star would not be buried at his Neverland Valley Ranch in central California and no funeral or memorial service would take place there. Media outlets earlier in the week said the family was considering Neverland as a possible burial ground.

The will values the "Thriller" star's estate at more than $500 million, and puts his assets in the Michael Jackson Family Trust, which ultimately benefits his three children, his mother and unnamed charities.

It specifically omitted his ex-wife Debbie Rowe, and named Jackson's mother, Katherine, 79, as guardian of the children: Prince Michael Jackson Jr. 12, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 11, and Prince Michael Joseph Jackson, II, 7. If Katherine Jackson cannot fulfill the guardianship duties, singer and long-time friend Diana Ross was nominated.

Rowe is the mother of the two eldest children, and her lawyer issued a statement describing as "entirely false" claims this week that Rowe was not the biological mother.

Before the will surfaced, Katherine Jackson was named temporary guardian of the children and administrator of the estate by a Los Angeles court until a hearing on July 6.

But the 2002 will names Los Angeles attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain as co-executors. They asked a Los Angeles judge to overturn Katherine Jackson's administration of the estate on Wednesday, but the judge denied their request and put off a decision until Monday's hearing.   Continued...

<p>Michael Jackson fan Mike Rios dances before a Michael Jackson themed version of "Amateur Night" at the Apollo Theater in New York July 1, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>