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Executors of Michael Jackson’s Estate Can Stop Paying Legal Expenses Out of Own Pockets
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The executors of Michael Jackson’s estate can now save a few bucks.

Following a judge’s approval of changes today to the late icon’s estate that’s reportedly earned hundreds of millions of dollars since his death, the executors can stop paying certain legal expenses and other costs out of their own pockets.


The changes were approved by Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff. This means attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain will no longer have to pay costs from their share of the estate.

The pair had been paying fees for entertainment legal counsel provided by members of Branca’s firm. As well, McClain had been incurring expenses for using a recording studio founded by Marvin Gaye.

Those expenses greatly reduced their ten percent share of Jackson’s post-death earnings.

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Branca and McClain have been collecting closer to 7 percent of the estate earnings since it became a “massive entertainment business enterprise,” court filings state.

Estate attorneys sought the change. Why? Because they spend much more time than they before realized they would on Jackson’s affairs.

Clearly, even in death, the pop star doesn’t rest.

The men have managed a number of Jackson-themed projects. This includes the licensing of music, video games and a touring Cirque du Soleil show that will eventually become a Las Vegas fixture.

In February 2010, the men agreed they would accept 10 percent of the gross entertainment-related earnings of the estate, minus money generated by Jackson’s 50 percent interest in the Sony-ATV music catalog and earnings from “This Is It,” a film compiled from the singer’s final rehearsals.

The exclusions are enormous revenue generators for the estate. The Sony-ATV catalog includes publishing rights to music by The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and other stars. As well, the executors have also been excluded an interest in Jackson’s music; sales have been up since his death in June 2009. Since that time, the estate has earned a whopping Z$310 million.

The percentage covers Branca’s work on the estate and McClain’s producing services.

Following the approval today, Branca’s firm Ziffren Brittenham LLP  will, going forward, receive 3 percent of entertainment-related income generated by Jackson’s estate in 2011 and future years.

Estate attorney Howard Weitzman said the firm was performing work that would cost more than $2 million a year if it was being handled by another firm, and court filings state that a traditional entertainment estate would include additional managers and attorneys who would receive up to 30 percent of the estate’s overall revenue.

Marvin’s Room was so named by McClain following his purchase and restoration of Gaye’s former Los Angeles studio in 1997. No estimate was given for how much McClain’s billings could possibly be. Jackson, as well as other prominent singers, have recorded there.

Beneficiaries of Jackson’s estate include the pop star’s mother, Katherine, as well as the singer’s three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket. Each received an initial $30 million payment earlier this year.

Attorneys for Katherine Jackson and the children did not object to any of the changes approved by Beckloff.



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