The battle over the James Brown estate, the Godfather of Soul, started not long after James Brown died of heart failure and pneumonia on Christmas Day, 2006, at the age of 73. Now, more than six years later, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that may finally lay the epic feud to rest.
James Brown, February 1973, Musikhalle, Hamburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Brown left behind a detailed will and trust, dated August 1, 2000. He wanted his personal and household effects divided between six adult children, the sum of two million dollars set aside in trust to pay for the education of his grandchildren, with the rest passing into a charitable trust. Specifically, he directed that the majority of his assets would be used to pay education expenses and assistance to benefit poor children and young adults who attended schools in either South Carolina or Georgia.
Brown was both physically and mentally strong when he signed his estate planning documents. His legal documents included clear instructions Read more...
The Godfather of Soul died on Christmas Day, 2006. His estate has been marred by fighting ever since. Here’s our Forbes recap of the legal troubles which have left James Brown’s estate and wishes in limbo.
The Associated Press reported this week that the court battles devastated his estate so much that his charitable trust had dwindled in value all the way down to $14,000, with $20 million of debt, until a 2009 settlement. This was quite a drop, because original estimates of the value of Brown’s estate came in at the $100 million mark.
The James Brown estate settlement — which was supposed to end all of the fighting — called for about half of Brown’s assets to pass to a charitable trust, with one-quarter going to his widow and the rest passing to all of his children. The deal also led to the court appointment of a new attorney to administer the estate, Russell Bauknight.
James Brown Estate Battle
When Bauknight became involved, he hired a professional music Read more...
The Godfather of Soul passed away on Christmas Day, 2006, and generously left his $100 million fortune to a special trust set up to help poor and needy children. Yet, four-and-a-half years later, not one child has seen a cent. Why?
The court battle over his final wishes has dragged on … and on … and on, as court fights often do. While most estate fights are devastating for family members, both emotionally and financially, this one has affected many more — those that needed help the most. How did this happen?
James Brown passed away with at least nine children, three ex-wives, and a woman who may or may not have been his widow. This woman, Tomi Rae Hynie, was technically still married to another man when she tied the knot with James Brown (although that marriage was later annulled, reportedly). Hynie also had a child named James Brown, II, which may or may not have been fathered by Brown. To complicate the estate, Brown never updated his will Read more...
The battle over James Brown’s final wishes began very shortly after the Godfather of Soul passed away on Christmas Day of 2006. And it’s still going strong.
The probate judge approved a settlement among his heirs in 2009, seemingly ending the fight then. One-half of his estate was to pass to charity through a trust, and the other one-half divided between his widow and his children. You can read about the prior settlement here.
But don’t forget about his former manager! What does she have to do with anything? It seems that Jacquelyne Hollander believes she should have been involved in the settlement too. She didn’t like being left out.
Hollander had sued Brown for sexual assault when he was alive (but lost, because she waited too long to sue). Now she’s sued, multiple times, to stop the settlement. Her most-recent lawsuit is still going on in federal court in California.
Why did she sue? What could have been done to prevent all this fighting? What can you learn Read more...