- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 4, 2009

LOS ANGELES | A hearing on Michael Jackson’s estate ended Monday with the two men named in the pop icon’s will retaining control of his financial affairs.

Attorneys will reconvene in a week to decide several issues, including a settlement between the estate and concert promoter AEG Live. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain will continue to administer Mr. Jackson’s estate until at least Oct. 2.

Judge Beckloff also will consider whether Mr. Jackson’s mother, Katherine, can oppose the two men’s appointment. Her attorneys want to explore whether the two have any conflicts of interest that should prevent them from administering Mr. Jackson’s estate, of which she and the singer’s three children are primary beneficiaries.

Earlier Monday, she gained permanent custody of her late son’s children during a hearing that included a surprise objection from the pop icon’s former dermatologist.

In that hearing, Judge Beckloff made a series of key rulings. In addition to approving Mrs. Jackson’s guardianship petition, he also granted monthly stipends to the 79-year-old and the three young grandchildren she is now charged with raising.

The ruling was issued after a few tense moments in which an attorney for Beverly Hills Dr. Arnold Klein, Mr. Jackson’s longtime dermatologist, raised nonspecific objections to the custody arrangements. The attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said they were based on the doctor’s long-term relationship with the singer and his children.

“Legally, he is not a presumed parent,” Mr. Kaplan said. He said Dr. Klein had concerns about the children’s education and other day-to-day parenting issues. Judge Beckloff ultimately determined Dr. Klein didn’t have legal standing to object to the care of Mr. Jackson’s children, but said he could raise objections later.

Mrs. Jackson’s approval as permanent guardian is in accordance with the wishes of her son, who named her in a 2002 will as the person he wanted to raise his children. Judge Beckloff noted that the singer’s two eldest children, Prince Michael, 12, and Paris Michael, 11, filed declarations stating their wishes as to who would raise them. He did not indicate what they said.

Last week, Mrs. Jackson and the singer’s ex-wife Deborah Rowe reached an agreement on custody issues.

Mrs. Jackson arrived flanked by daughters LaToya and Rebbie and son Randy. Several lawyers representing her were also in court.

The hearing was attended by more than 20 attorneys, outnumbered only by media outlets jockeying for seats at the hearing. A variety of broadcast, Internet and print media outlets covered the hearing, arriving more than an hour before Judge Beckloff took the bench. An overflow room was required.

c Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.

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