Michael Jackson’s Will Filed

The much-talked-about 2002 will of Michael Jackson has been filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court and there are a couple of surprises, including the appearance of Diana Ross’ name.

The five-page document is relatively sparse considering the potential size of Jackson’s estate and the complicated legal issues at stake, including guardianship of his children and control of his assets and legacy.

Photo: AP Photo
A worker moves a giant stuffed monkey left by fans as a tribute at the Jackson family home in Encino, Calif.

As expected, the singer named his mother Katherine as “guardian of the persons and estates” of his three children, Prince Michael Jackson, Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince Michael Joseph Jackson, II. The big surprise is his second choice for custodian of his children – Diana Ross.

The will leaves all of Jackson’s assets to the Michael Jackson Family Trust, with John Branca (the singer’s former lawyer), Interscope Records’ exec John McClain (who helped launch Janet Jackson’s career) and Barry Siegel (a former accountant for the singer) named as co-executors. However, Siegel will not be involved in administering the estate because he resigned from his role in 2003.

TMZ reports a petition was filed along with the will setting the value of Jackson’s estate at more than $500,000, most of which “consists of non-cash, non-liquid assets, including primarily an interest in a catalog of music royalty rights which is currently being administered by Sony/ATV, and interests in various entities.”

Photo: AP Photo
A truck carrying portable toilets enters the grounds of Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, Calif. There’s a great deal of speculation that a memorial for Jackson will be held there.

Details of documents relating to the Michael Jackson Family Trust have not been released, but reports indicate it provides financially for Katherine Jackson, MJ’s children and a number of charities. Ex-wife Debbie Rowe is “intentionally omitted” from Jackson’s bequests.

Branca and McClain issued a statement soon after the will was filed asserting “the most important element of Michael’s will is his unwavering desire that his mother, Katherine, become the legal guardian for his three children.”