King of Pop Michael Jackson’s sudden death at a rented Los Angeles home on Thursday has left those close to him wondering what will happen to his estate.
According to reports, it is not known whether Jackson—who is survived by his parents, his ex-wife Debbie Rowe and his eight siblings—ever wrote a will delineating who would have custody of his children or his estate after his death.
His first wife Lisa-Marie Presley, however, is not expected to lay claim to any part of his estate.
The only thing being said by Jackson’s associates and lawyers is that they believe that the ‘Thriller’ star wanted his children to pass to his mother Katherine.
"I do not know of any kind of will or estate planning that Michael would have made. But I know that he believed that if anything ever happened to him that his mother was a wonderful caretaker," Fox News quoted Brian Oxman, a Jackson family lawyer, as saying.
Debra Opri, a former Jackson family spokeswoman who represented photographer Larry Birkhead in his successful suit for custody of Birkhead''s child with Anna Nicole Smith, agreed and called Katherine Jackson "a fantastic mother to a very large group”.
She hoped that Jackson’s children would be under Katherine’s care, and that they would be OK.
"For a long time now things have been in place as to who would be raising the kids," she said.
Jackson, though believed to be 400 million dollars in debt, also held giant assets, including the rights to his own mega-hits and a 50 percent stake in the company that owns the majority of the Beatles'' catalog.
"Whoever does have custody of the children ultimately will have access to whatever remains of his estate," said Wendy Murphy, a prosecutor and child advocate.
"Katherine, I think, if there is no will, will probably prevail because she''s probably the relative that the courts will see as most appropriate," Murphy added.
The lawyer, however, added that Katherine''s claims could be put on hold if rumours of her poor health proved true, and the courts determined that she was not fit to care for her grandchildren.
Jackson’s friends, on the other hand, believe that the resolution of this case will not take long, even if the singer had not written a will or left proper instructions for the maintenance of his estate.
"It is always complicated when there is not a will, but I can assure you that Michael Jackson crossed his T''s and dotted his I''s when it came to his children. That means he made sure that there''s something in writing saying who is going to take care of the kids and what was going to be done for them," Opri said.