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The Failure of James Brown's Estate Plan

James Brown intended for his estate to give millions to poor children. However, he passed away 11 years ago, and the children have still not received anything.

It is not clear how much the estate of legendary soul singer James Brown is worth. The estate claims it is worth about $5 million. However, some experts estimate that it could be worth as much as $100 million.


Brown passed away in 2006 but his estate has not given any of the money to the children. Instead the estate is still bogged down in numerous lawsuits and remains unsettled, as The New York Times reported in "Why Is James Brown's Estate Still Unsettled? Ask the Lawyers."

The main source of the dispute appears to be a family feud with Brown's children and grandchildren on one side and his widow, who is the estate administrator, on the other side. Numerous lawsuits have been filed.

In perhaps the biggest lawsuit, the children and grandchildren allege that the widow has cut inappropriate side deals for the copyrights to Brown's music. These copyrights are where the bulk of the estate's value likely is found. They also allege in another lawsuit that the widow was not even married to Brown, because she was allegedly also married to another man.

It is safe to say that this dispute is unlikely to end soon. The biggest losers here are the children who would otherwise be receiving assistance.

Reference: New York Times (Feb. 4, 2018) "Why Is James Brown's Estate Still Unsettled? Ask the Lawyers."

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