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Jackson estate executors get a pay raise

Celebrity estates have a way of making money, even after the celebrity has died. The enterprises that carry on after the death of such stars as Michael Jackson can make a great deal of money. That reality is another reason why experienced estate planning attorneys in New Jersey are so attentive to making sure that the wills and trusts set up on clients' names are well crafted.

That doesn't mean that terms can't change. The courts are willing to consider changes to the structure of wills, especially if there's general agreement that it's the fair thing to do. That appears to be what has happened in the case of the Michael Jackson estate.

A superior court judge in Los Angeles recently gave his blessing to a pay raise for the executors of Jackson's estate. Under the original terms of the will, attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain had been receiving 10 percent of gross earnings from the Jackson entertainment franchise. But that didn't include money earned from some of the most fruitful endeavors the executors have managed to develop in the singer's name since his death and which have earned hundreds of millions of dollars.

In their petition for improved compensation, the two executors noted that they've been dedicating a growing amount of their time and attention to those efforts, but paying themselves for their services out of their estate earnings. They claimed that as a result, they've really only been receiving about 7 percent, rather than 10 percent.

Under the new terms, Branca's firm will get a 3 percent increase. It's not clear what McClain will be entitled to.

The key to the amicable situation is that the estate's attorney and the Jackson family know they have benefited from the work of the executors and acknowledge the value that's been delivered. Because of that, they've supported the changes.

Source: AP, "Judge approves pay bump for Jackson estate execs," Anthony McCartney, Dec. 19, 2011

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