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Why is James Brown’s Estate is Still Unsettled Over 10 Years Later?

When singer/songwriter James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul”, died on Christmas Day in 2006, he did so with an estate plan in place. Unbelievably – and unfortunately for his named heirs – his estate still has not been settled yet, more than 11 years later.

james brown's estate

His plan was reported to leave $2 million for scholarships for his grandchildren, leave his performance costumes and other personal property to six recognized children, and to donate potentially tens of millions of dollars to create and distribute scholarships for needy children in Georgia and South Carolina.

Unfortunately, the estate has been mired in a series of legal issues. Some of the battles include disputes between Brown’s children and his widow, including allegations that she was not legally married to Brown. In addition to the step-mother/step-children litigation, the heirs are also battling over copyright termination rights to Brown’s songs. Add in lawsuits brought by people contesting Brown’s will, people claiming that they should be (or should not be) appointed as trustees for the estate, and a suit brought by a now-16 year old James Brown II, asserting that he has the right to be identified as a legitimate heir of Brown’s estate, which could be worth as much as $100 million.  

While the value of the estate isn’t clear, one thing is certain: Nobody wants their estate to be tied up in costly and lengthy litigation for more than a decade after their death. Brown undoubtedly thought the estate plan he’d crafted would be carried out; unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet. Working with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you identify any potential roadblocks or issues so you can take steps to address them and ensure that your wishes will be honored.

As you can see, estate planning can be a confusing process. But, it doesn’t have to be. Our team of experts has the experience and ability to tailor a comprehensive estate plan for you. After a thorough review of your assets we will present you with various estate planning techniques that will meet your needs no matter what type of estate you have. Contact us today to get started!