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James Brown's estate still not settled 12 years after his death


When a person dies it can be an emotional time for a family. Many people have taken the time to create an estate plan to help establish where their assets will go after they pass. But sometimes things don't go as planned and a will or trust is contested. Or a person dies without an estate plan and a family has disagreements as to what should happen to the assets. Legal disputes are still occurring for the estate of musician James Brown over 12 years after his death.

Soul musician, James Brown, passed away on Christmas Day in 2006, leaving behind millions of dollars in assets and a prolific music catalog. His family is still disputing his estate. One of the main disputes is whether Mr. Brown had a surviving spouse at the time of his death. He had married Tomi Rae Hynie in 2001, but she may have still been married at the time to another man. If this is the case, her marriage to Mr. Brown is not legal under South Carolina law. But, the man she may have been married to also appears to have been married to three other women in Pakistan, although this has not been proven. Because of the validity of the marriage to Mr. Brown, his estate is still in limbo. In addition, his will was written before his marriage to Hynie and does not include her. She has claimed an elective share of 1/3 of his estate. His children and grandchildren are disputing her claims and any settlement that includes her. The South Carolina Court of Appeals has found her to be the valid spouse but it is expected that the heirs will take this to the South Carolina Supreme Court. In addition, some of his children dispute the paternity of James Brown II and whether he really is the son of James Brown. The heirs of his estate are also in court in California over who will have control over his vast music catalog.

Probate disputes are sometimes unavoidable in a family. When a family doesn't agree with a loved one's choices regarding their estate they may want to speak with a legal professional who is skilled in probate litigation. An attorney understands the emotional and financial issues that are at stake and will tirelessly work to make sure the issues are resolved.

Every family can be affected by a probate dispute. These are disputes that can cause family arguments and long-lasting resentment if not resolved efficiently.

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Mason & Helmers
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