Michael Jackson's five-page will from 2002 was filed today in a Los Angeles court, leaving all his assets in the hands of the Michael Jackson Family Trust. Michael's mother Katherine Jackson was named the guardian of his three children, but in the will's most surprising detail Jackson left his three children to singer Diana Ross if Katherine was unable to care for the children.
"If any of my children are minors at the time of my death, I nominate my mother, Katherine Jackson as guardian of the persons and estate of such minor children. If Katherine Jackson fails to survive me, or is unable or unwilling to act as guardian, I nominate Diana Ross as guardian of the persons and estates of such minor children," Jackson's will stated. According to the will, which was posted in its entirety on TMZ, the document was "amended and restated" on March 22nd, 2002 and executed on July 7th of the same year.
"I have intentionally omitted provide for my former wife, Deborah Jean Rowe Jackson," Jackson's will also stated. The three co-executors of the will are listed as John Branca, John McClain and Barry Siegel. According to TMZ, Branca was Jackson's lawyer, McClain is a music exec and Siegel was Jackson's accountant but resigned from the executor board in 2003. According to the will, the executors have "full power and authority at any time or times to sell, lease, mortgage, pledge, exchange or otherwise dispose of the property, whether real or, personal comprising my estate, upon such terms as my Executors shall deem best, to continue any business enterprises, to purchase assets from my estate" and other similar duties regarding Jackson's assets.
While funeral arrangements have still not been made for Jackson, sources tell the Los Angeles Times that Michael Jackson will not be buried at Neverland Ranch due to bureaucratic reasons. According to California state law, one cannot be buried at a private residence, and while officials were hopeful they could sidestep the law — and even Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger offered to help with the red tape — it appears unlikely that they could not get past the legal hurdle. "It's nobody's fault. Everybody in Santa Barbara feels bad about it," the source told the LAT.
Meanwhile, despite previous reports, it also seems unlikely that Jackson's public memorial will be held at Neverland, as the crush of traffic appears to be too daunting for local officials to prepare in time. Instead, the Los Angeles Times say a possible public memorial might take place at Los Angeles' Staples Center, which was also the home of the This Is It! rehearsals. This afternoon, the Jackson family issued a statement confirming a Neverland viewing is off the table:
"Contrary to previous news reports, the Jackson family is officially stating that there will be no public or private viewing at Neverland. Plans are underway regarding a public memorial for Michael Jackson, and we will announce those plans shortly."
The Jackson family has not yet spoken to city officials in either Santa Barbara or Los Angeles pertaining to Jackson's memorial service or funeral arrangements.
• Michael Jackson's Body Heads to Neverland for Public Viewing
• Michael Jackson's Mother Granted Temporary Custody of Children
• Michael Jackson Photos From "This Is It!" Rehearsals Emerge