AIKEN, S.C. - (AP) Five of James Brown's children say their late father's will should be invalidated because his former advisers used undue influence to get him to create charitable trusts that the advisers would profit from, according to court documents filed this week.The children were largely left out of the financial portion of the will, which leaves the bulk of the soul singer's money to trusts set up to educate Brown's grandchildren and needy kids.
Atlanta attorney Louis Levenson said the children discovered earlier wills drafted by their father that cast doubt on whether he truly wanted to leave his estate to charity.
"There was sporadic indication that Mr. Brown intended to benefit some charities, but the circumstances surrounding the making of these documents have always been clouded in mystery," Levenson said.
Five Brown children are challenging the will in Aiken County Probate Court. They claim Brown's longtime advisers Buddy Dallas, Alford Bradley and David Cannon convinced the soul singer to create the trusts so the advisers would profit from managing the two charities after Brown died.
Dallas denied the allegations and called attempts to void the will "an act of desperation."
"No one told James Brown what to do," Dallas said, adding that if he were going to use his influence to benefit himself, "I would have just influenced him into giving me something."
The Brown children challenging the will are Deanna Brown Thomas, Venisha Brown, Daryl Brown, Yamma Brown Lumar and Larry Brown. A sixth child named in Brown's will, Terry Brown, has hired a different attorney.
One grandchild whose tuition would be paid for by the trusts has accused his relatives of trying to break the charities to get the money.
Most of Brown's estate, including his Beech Island home and rights to his image, name and music, would go to the James Brown "I Feel Good" Trust for the education of needy children in South Carolina and Georgia, as well as to a family trust to educate his grandchildren younger than 35.
Brown died on Christmas Day 2006 of heart failure. He was 73.
Just how much money is involved in Brown's estate is unclear. In October, Forbes reported Brown made an estimated $5 million in 2005 alone. But attorneys have said Brown's accounts do not have the money they expected.
When are they going to let this man rest in peace?
This whole situation will be a mess for a long time....
Can you blame them for trying to get paid?
JAMES BROWN LOOK LIKE THOES SINGING RASINS FROM BACK IN THE DAY
I don't know why the hell these BRATS won't let this man REST IN PEACE, hell they need to reincarnate him just for their selfish ***, and just because they are his kids don't mean they deserve his money. He worked for his, and if they *** ain't in that will then so be it!! I think we all need to go and get a DNA test so we can get paid too. I know he is turning over in his grave...OH, I forgot he don't have one!!
This is really not going to be pretty. Thank God The godfather of soul has been laid to rest.
Let em' ask Maseo for some money.
HE IS FKNG THEM FROM HIS GRAVE
BUT REFUSED TO
FCK WITH THEM
WHILE HE WAS
There will be more kids taking DNA tests so they better hold off for 10 more yrs.
ILL BE DAMNED IF I WRITE A WILL AND SOME MOTHERF*CKER SAYS MY WISHES ARE INVALID....
Please tell me how his selfish-*** kids gonna contest a will that benifits his own grandCHILDREN and other needy CHILDREN?? And all his grandchildren ain't even kids...the will said any of them that are 35 and younger. Their greedy *** are old enough to go out there and get a job instead of waiting to benifit from their father's death. I hate hearing stories about selfish relatives as them. Whenever I write my will...I'ma sit my family down and inform them from my own mouth what is and what ain't...just so there will be no dispute about how my estate is to be divided up.
This is crazy
WOW...I DON'T SEE WHAT'S THE PROBLEM...THE PARENTS DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT COLLEGE FOR THEIR CHILDREN...THEY NEED TO LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE...COLLEGE TUITION IS EXPENSIVE...R.I.P MR.BROWN...
JAMES BROWN IS MY GREAT UNCLE! I AINT LOOKIN FOR DAT SPREAD THO
This is so stupid. The man left had a will wrote up while he was of sane mind. So why are his children disputing it. James Brown knew what he was doing. These children of his probably never even called to see about the man maybe even 5 times out of a year, some of them probably didn't go to college to better themselves and were waiting around for him to die so they could get paid. There is a reason he didn't leave any money to his children. His kids are probably mad that they can't dip into their kids college money for their own greedy selves. ***! Somebody paying for my kids college education to make sure they have a decent finacial career/future and they complaining about that. Then he helping out children that are less fourtunate than his grown kids and grandchildren. James Brown kids are a bunch of ungrateful heathens if you ask me!
AS MY MOMMA WOULD SAY YOU WANT SOMETHING DONE RIGHT HIRE A JEW,,,SMH
POOR JAMES! THEY JUST BURIED THE DUDE, LIKE LAST WEEK OR SOME SH*T! THIS MAN BEEN DEAD FOR THE LONGEST! LET THE GODFATHER REST IN PEACE, PLEEEZZZ! MISS YOU JAMES!
The trustees are scandalous and was even ordered to pay back ove $300k. I don't blame the kids for disputing the will. The advisors are down-right grimey.
Was there a close relationship between James and his kids? There is no way I would be in the dark of how much I would inherit after my father's death. You can't just assume when there are millions in question.
If James Brown wanted his children to have some of his money he would have given it to them directly before he got sick.
I WISH THEY GET IT TOGETHER!! THE MAN CAN'T EVEN REST IN PEACE WITH ALL OF THE ***!T GOING ON. ALL OF THEM ARE ACTING IMMATURE. GROW UP! AFTER ALL OF THIS, THE MONEY SHOULD GO TO CHARITY. HIS KIDS *** GET NOTHING WITH THIER GREEDY SELVES. THEY PROBABLY COULDN'T WAIT FOR HIM TO DIE.
Why won't they let that man rest in peace??? JB knew just what he was doing when he wrote his will...I'm with Buddy Dallas, nobody had to tell James what to do. Greedy *** kids need to stop looking for a handout. They know just where their father wanted his money to go! They're just *** because they aren't supposed to get anything, only the grandkids and those charities.
This man won't ever rest in peace.
Shhh too much talk. Now no man will marry you.
THAT IS A SHAME.
Let's face the facts here. James Brown was a terrific singer, dancer, legend and an addict. Addicts spend money to support their habit and that's why James traveled and worked so extensively, even at his age!!! The man needed to keep working to make more money. At that point in his life he *** have been working that hard. They said he worked 300+ days a year in his 70s!!!
This is not a pity party story. When rock and rollers do drugs, live hard lives and have babies here, there and every where, eventually it meets a dead end.
Some of the children named in this suit are the same girls who sued their father over a song when he was alive, so what more do we expect of them? I believe Tommie when she said that after that lawsuit James didn't even want his own daughters in his home until she begged him to invite them over. What rational parent would just invite in a child or relative who just sued them?
Many celebrities change their wills and I've read some wills where rich ones didn't leave hardly anything to their heirs. Jackie Kennedy didn't leave a cent to her sister. Some rich people would prefer that their money be handed down to the grandchildren.
Sorry, but I have absolutely no sympathy for James Brown's children. His will is what it is. If he was not thinking properly, perhaps one of them should've intervened then but they didn't because they know they couldn't.
I have not heard about any of this will nonsense among the many children Ray Charles had. When money is involved, some family members lose their cotton picking minds.
In my country...
We would stone them... very good sxcarmal. Youre catching on.
Now spread the stoning theory.
@MRS.GOODIDEA: ***! THAT'S FUNNY AS HELL!..R.I.P JAMES BROWN!
mrs. good idea that was hilarious u r funny
For updated information, visit Facebook page James Brown "I Feel Good" Trust (FOIA Concerns). Of particular interest, the affidavit filed 9-29-11. Outlines involvement of former AG Henry McMaster, current AG Alan Wilson, outside attorney Ken Wingate, current trustee Russell *** (who claimed to the IRS that the Brown music empire was valued at only $4.7 million at his death, when the royalties bring in about $4-5 million a year. Interesting reading.
Newberry FOIA lawsuits may hold the answer: will James Brownâs last wish be granted?
The Newerry Observer Oct. 5, 2011
Two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed in Newberry County may prove pivotal in answering the question: will entertainment icon James Brown be denied his last wish?
According to Albert âBuddyâ Dallas, one of Brownâs original trustees, Brown spent over $20,000 and almost 20 years to make sure his estate plan was exactly as he wanted it.
In a telephone interview, Dallas said he had worked with Brown over a 24-year period, and throughout that time, Brown consistently voiced his concern for children getting an education.
âI was with James Brown in 1987 at the Scottish Rites Hospital in Atlanta when he announced publicly that he would be leaving his estate to educate needy and underprivileged children,â Dallas said.
Brown had only an 8th grade education, and he felt education was the needy childâs only way out. Brown promoted education at every opportunity, even in his music, Dallas said.
Brownâs song, âDonât Be a Dropout,â repeats the refrain, âwithout education, you might as well be dead.â
Dallas said that Brown formalized his wishes in his will and a trust, dated Aug. 1, 2000, and that the trust is recorded in two states, Georgia and South Carolina. Brownâs will and estate plan were under discussion with his attorney for over two years, and his children were aware of his wishes.
According to a Rolling Stone article in July, Brown and his children were not close, and in 1988 at a business meeting he declared, "They will not ride on my back when I'm gone, Mr. Dallas! Do you hear me?"
âMr. Brownâs testamentary scheme was quite simple and extremely altruistic,â Dallas said, explaining that Brownâs estate plan provided for three things:
1. To six children, named in the will, Brown left his household and personal effects.
2. For his âbloodâ grandchildren, Brown set up an educational trust.
3. Everything else Brown owned, including royalties and the right to his image, he left to an education trust for needy and underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia.
âHere we are, five years later, and not one needy or underprivileged child has received one dime,â Dallas said.
What happened to thwart the final wishes of the âGodfather of Soulâ?
Brownâs will was clear that anyone who challenged his estate plan would receive nothing. Yet, within a year of his death on Christmas Day, 2006, Brownâs will had been challenged by some of the children specifically excluded from inheriting his music empire, as well as by the woman with whom he lived.
According to previous filings, Tommie Rae Hynie Brown was married to another man at the time she exchanged vows with Brown. Therefore, she could not be Brownâs wife. Given that Brown was widely reported to have had a vasectomy in the early 1980s, there is also a question of paternity regarding her son.
At the time the challenges to Brownâs will were made, the three original trustees had resigned.
In November 2007, the Aiken Court appointed Adele Pope of Newberry and Aiken attorney Robert Buchanan to replace them.
In August of 2008, AG Henry McMaster entered into a settlement agreement that called for placing Brownâs assets in a deceptively-named âJames Brown Legacyâ Trust--deceptively named, in that the âLegacyâ Trust was never a part of Brownâs estate plan. Under the agreement, more than half of the Legacy Trust assets would then be given to some of those who had contested the will.
McMaster named Columbia CPA Russell *** the sole trustee of Brownâs assets. *** was appointed by the AG and serves at the AGâs pleasure, giving the AG full control of the Legacy Trust.
McMaster asked that Pope and Buchanan sign a statement not to criticize him or the agreement. In a previously filed affidavit, attorney Pope asserts she has a duty to warn her clients with foundations that in South Carolina, the AG may attempt to rewrite their estate plans.
Buchanan and Pope appealed McMasterâs settlement agreement in the summer of 2009.
They are now being sued. In the lawsuit, Columbia attorney Ken Wingate serves as outside counsel for the State, current trustee ***, and 10 private plaintiffs â including some of Brownâs claimed heirs.
The lawsuit alleges Pope and Buchanan caused tens of millions of dollars of damage to Brownâs music empire during their tenure as trustees, which ended in early 2009.
Despite Wingateâs allegation, *** has filed *** with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), claiming that at Brownâs death in 2006, his music empire was worth only $4.7 million.
Pope and Buchanan valued the assets at $100 million, less a $15 million debt.
The figure of $100 million has been widely reported in national publications such as Forbes and the Rolling Stone, and all previous trustees have concurred in the higher valuation.
As early as 1999, Brown borrowed $26 million, using his music assets as collateral. In announcing the bond deal, Wall Street financier David Pullman stated in a press release: âJames Brown has created over $100 million in entertainment assets which continue to generate royaltiesâ¦â
Between 1999 and 2006, Brown earned about $50 million in royalties and fees for performances, and in a 2007 prospectus, some of Brownâs children estimated the value of his music empire as high as $200 million.
In 2010 alone, Brownâs royalties were reported at $5.4 million.
AG Alan Wilson has not released the *** requested by Pope in the Newberry FOIA lawsuits.
The *** Pope is seeking include: a copy of Wingateâs contingency-fee contract with the AGâs office; *** related to the valuation of Brownâs estate and trust; a copy of the James Brown Legacy Trust; and the authorization *** under which *** purports to speak for the AGâs office.
These *** may help to determine how much education funding will be available to needy and deserving children in South Carolina and Georgia, how much of James Brownâs music empire will be given to those he specifically excluded from inheriting it, if the State can take control of Brownâs personal estate plan and rewrite itâand whether the Freedom of Information Act will be undermined by the very public official responsible for enforcing it.
The S.C. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Brown case on Nov. 1.