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Jackson’s mother seeks influence over trust

Two trustees named by Michael Jackson to administer his estate have won a judge’s written order to move ahead in spite of new opposition by Katherine Jackson’s lawyers.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The two men named by Michael Jackson to administer his estate confirmed their powers with a judge Monday, despite new opposition by Katherine Jackson’s lawyers to gain for her a larger say in her late son’s affairs.

The dispute continued through the weekend between the two sides and was detailed in documents filed with Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff.

Beckloff agreed with the men’s lawyers and signed off on the papers needed for special administrators John Branca and John McClain to begin doing business on behalf of the estate, at least through Aug. 3.

The judge also formally revoked his earlier order, which gave Katherine Jackson limited powers over some of her son’s possessions when it was believed he died without a will.

Attorney Paul Gordon Hoffman, a member of the team representing Branca and McClain, said in a nine-page declaration that as late as 4:10 p.m. Sunday, an attorney for the Jackson family sent an e-mail “stating that it was his intent to have the order reflect that Katherine Jackson should be treated like a third trustee.”

Hoffman argued that to gain that power, attorneys for Katherine Jackson would need to appear Monday and submit a competing proposed order that would allow this.

No competing order was submitted.

No hearing was held and the judge signed the papers without hearing further argument.

Attorney Burt Levitch, who appeared for Katherine Jackson, referred questions to New York lawyer Londell McMillan. A call to McMillan was not immediately returned on Monday.

Attorney Howard Weitzman, who represents Branca, refused to comment.

Hoffman said in his filing that Branca and McClain have been submitting to Katherine Jackson’s lawyers “voluminous and continuous information on the business opportunities being presented and their responses or intended responses.”

He said while the law firm has been able to reach agreement with the Attorney General’s office, which is a party to the case, it “has been unable to reach an agreement with counsel for the Jacksons.”

Hoffman said that Katherine Jackson’s lawyers “have stated that they were pleased with the information being provided, and that their objections were not predicated on the actual provision of information, but rather on the lack of a formal role for Katherine Jackson or a court-ordered requirement that the information be provided.”

Hoffman cited the transcript of the July 6 hearing in which the judge said that Branca and McClain “are for now for the next month at the helm of the ship.” At the time, the judge suggested that they keep Katherine Jackson informed but said, “I’m not telling them what they have to do to do their job.”

“There are numerous pressing matters that require immediate attention,” Hoffman said in his declaration. He asked for administration authority “so that McClain and Branca can begin to take the actions necessary to preserve the assets of the estate and address the needs of the decedent’s minor children.”

Jackson died on June 25, leaving a will which provided for a trust to be administered by Branca and McClain. The beneficiaries named were his mother, his three children and an unnamed group of children’s charities.