Who are the rightful heirs to the James Brown estate?
When "The Godfather of Soul," James Brown, died in 2006, he was 73, and he had entertained music fans in California and beyond for decades. A woman at least 30 years younger than Brown says she was legally his wife at the time of his death and, therefore, should be entitled to at least 50 percent of the interests in his music. She has also asserted that Brown merely forgot to update his final will and testament, and that is why she and the son they had together are not mentioned as heirs or beneficiaries in the document.
Brown's nine other children have quite a different perspective on the matter. They have filed a lawsuit claiming that their father's former backup singer is trying to beat them out of their rightful inheritance. The situation has been stuck in the probate circuit for more than 10 years and will now reportedly be heard at the federal level of justice. One question was settled by a judge in another state.
That question involved whether Brown was ever actually legally married to his backup singer. The question arose because it was determined that the woman was already married to another man when she and Brown wed. That man, in turn, apparently had at least three wives in Pakistan when he married the backup singer. A South Carolina court ruled that because the man was a bigamist, his marriage to the singer was not legitimate and, therefore, did not impede her ability to legally marry Brown.
The Brown estate is valued at approximately $100 million. Sadly, his heirs are not the first to fight over such matters. If anyone in California is currently concerned with a copyright issue or a final will dispute, it may be easier to resolve if experienced legal support is sought.