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A lawsuit filed in a California federal court in January is one of over a dozen dealing with the disputed estate of the singer James Brown, who died in 2006. Brown’s will left around $2 million worth of effects to the six children he acknowledged as belonging to him, $2 million to his grandchildren to be used as scholarships, and most of the rest of the estate to the I Feel Good Trust, which was established by Brown to give scholarships to children in Georgia and South Carolina. Unfortunately, none of his beneficiaries have received that money.

Brown was married several times. Some of his children and grandchildren initially challenged the will on the grounds that his drug problems meant he was not of sound mind in making the estate plan. A proposal by the South Carolina attorney general was that the children and grandchildren should get a quarter of the estate and his widow should get another quarter, but the state’s highest court threw this out on appeal.

Another dispute has to do with his widow. Her status as an heir was challenged due to the fact that when she married Brown, she was also married to another man. The estate’s value is also in question.

While most estates are not this complex, estate administration can still present challenges. There might be conflicts among beneficiaries, or a will might be challenged on one or more grounds, such as undue influence or lack of testamentary capacity. People who are administrators might want to talk to an attorney about their fiduciary duties and how best to fulfill them.

Source: King News, “Why Is James Brown’s Estate Still Unsettled? Ask the Lawyers”, Steve Knopper, Feb. 4, 2018