Jackson estate will add to probate discussion

Jackson estate to enhance discussion of probate pitfalls
Lou Ann Anderson
July 2, 2009
Michael Jackson’s will has been made public.  Debbie Rowe says “I want my children.”  The DEA is now investigating and the tour might go on.  This story isn’t going away, but as much of the world watches to see how events unfold, one certainty exists – this scenario will provide great opportunity to expand the dialogue regarding probate corruption and estate abuse.

The probate aspects of this case are important.  The legal industry will respond in lockstep to extoll the importance of “proper estate planning,” but any analysis of inheritance rights issues shows that the best of estate plans can be rendered ineffective when assaulted by modern day grave robbers and other property poachers – often in concert with legal industry professionals who claimed (and were paid) to provide protection.

While reacting to reports on the mess that Michael Jackson’s estate is most assuredly going to become, people will hopefully start to understand that similar exploitative activities are quietly occurring across this country with estates of far more modest values.  In fact, an estate of $500,000 – $1 million can be a dangerous “sweet spot” of special appeal for asset looters who use probate instruments (wills, trusts, guardianships or powers of attorney) to commit Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA) acts that divert resources of the dead, disabled or incapacitated.

It will be interesting to see if the public and/or media comes to recognize their own vulnerability to estate abuse or exploitation and perhaps turns the discussion to a little-known fact that people from all economic levels are being preyed upon.

The media itself is becoming of particular interest as news anchors and hosts receive an education on the realities of probate.  A reader at EstateofDenial.com provided this description of CNN’s coverage:

They’re reading the contents of Michael Jackson’s will on CNN and are making a HUGE deal about the fact that the Executors have all the power and control!  They’re being very clear to explain that everything becomes theirs (estate administrators, trustees or executors) and theirs alone to do with as they want. No one gets anything unless they say so.  Everyone’s acting as if it’s news?   Reporting it as if no one knew that executors have been  inheriting everything all along!  Maybe this is the break needed for people to understand the real threats facing their inheritance rights!

Wouldn’t it be something if Jackson’s death helps people finally understand the increasing potential (and existence!) of probate corruption?  We hope the folks administering Jackson’s estate will do right by his heirs,  but only time will tell.  And unfortunately, California has an exceedingly ugly reputation when it comes to estate abuse.

Meanwhile, when recently listening to some Michael Jackson tunes, it was ironic that these lyrics from Beat It so aptly describe common experiences of IRA targets and the legal industry.

You Have To Show Them That You’re Really Not Scared
You’re Playin’ With Your Life, This Ain’t No Truth Or Dare
They’ll Kick You, Then They Beat You,
Then They’ll Tell You It’s Fair
So Beat It, But You Wanna Be Bad

Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It
No One Wants To Be Defeated
Showin’ How Funky Strong Is Your Fight
It Doesn’t Matter Who’s Wrong Or Right
Just Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It, Beat It

Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture.  She is the Online Producer at www.EstateofDenial.com and a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas.  Lou Ann may be contacted at info@EstateofDenial.com.