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Michael names mother as guardian of kids in will with Diana Ross as backup

July 2, 2009
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The will of Thriller singer Michael Jackson has been filed in a LA court, leaving his whole estate – estimated at that time to be worth more than $500 million - to a family trust. Dated July 7, 2002, the document reveals the star leaves nothing to his former wife Debbie Rowe, and indicates his mother Katherine Jackson as the guardian of his three children Prince Michael, 12, 11-year-old Paris Katherine and seven-year-old Prince Michael II.

Michael's long-time friend Diana Ross is named as guardian should Katherine, now 79 years old, be unable to fulfil the role. The children's grandmother is also named as the beneficiary of the Michael Jackson Family Trust, which will benefit his offspring and charities. In the five-page document, Michael states: "I have intentionally omitted to provide for my former wife, Deborah Rowe Jackson." The former nurse, who gave birth to Michael's two elder children, gave up custody rights after their divorce in 1999. She sought them again in 2003 but the couple finally agreed an undisclosed settlement in 2006. 

Michael's estate consisted almost entirely of "non-cash, non-liquid assets, including an interest in a catalogue of music royalty rights, which is currently being administered by Sony-ATV, and interests in various entities", according to the will. The document fails to give any guidance on several crucial issues, however, including how or where the star wanted to be buried, or about how his fortune is likely to be shared out. 

Meanwhile the Jackson family have put paid to stories that Michael's body would go on display in his Neverland ranch. "Contrary to previous news reports, the Jackson family is officially stating that there will be no public or private viewing at Neverland," a family statement said.

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