- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

LOS ANGELES — A lawyer for the family of Michael Jackson said Tuesday that a will had surfaced and soon would be presented in court, as a funeral service began to take shape at the pop star’s Neverland Ranch.

L. Londell McMillan, the lawyer, said his clients are now aware of the will, and the late singer’s advisers are looking for additional documents.

The existence of a will, and the likely appointment of an executor, could complicate a petition by Mr. Jackson’s mother, Katherine, to become the administrator of his estate.

In documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Mr. Jackson’s parents say they believe their 50-year-old son died without a valid will.

Meanwhile, Santa Barbara County officials were in a meeting about Jackson plans, and E! Online reported they are discussing a possible memorial service at his Neverland Ranch.

Lt. Butch Arnoldi, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman, told E!, “Our guys are meeting as we speak with the California Highway Patrol to discuss the security issues.”

Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Capt. David Sadecki confirmed to the Associated Press that fire officials, California Highway Patrol and county sheriff’s officials were meeting Tuesday morning to discuss “the whole Michael Jackson thing.”

“The Santa Barbara County Fire Department is willing to accommodate the Jackson family with whatever request they have regarding a funeral procession should they have one,” Capt. Sadecki said.

Capt. Sadecki said he had not yet talked with representatives in the ongoing meeting but expected an update later in the afternoon.

Neverland is located in the rolling hills of central California’s wine country, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Rick Quintero, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, said the CHP had not received a request for a motorcade as of Tuesday morning. He said if the motorcade crosses through CHP jurisdiction, as it likely would from Los Angeles to Neverland, the patrol would need to be notified.

“They would definitely need to notify us because it’s going to impact the motoring public. At the point they decide it is going to happen, we have to be involved because it’s going to impact our jurisdiction,” Mr. Quintero said.

In an open letter to the Santa Barbara community, Thomas J. Barrack Jr., who set up a joint venture with Mr. Jackson that took ownership of the 2,500-acre property, warned residents that the world quickly will descend on Santa Barbara and Neverland as fans grieve.

“We must also prepare to accommodate Michael’s family’s wishes as they contemplate the location of his final resting place and their own return to the tranquil grounds of the Michael Jackson family compound.”

The California Highway Patrol has internal meetings under way to plan for a Jackson caravan that could bring Southern California’s congested highways to a standstill. Sgt. Mark Garrett said the agency had not been notified of the family’s plans, but was preparing nonetheless.

“It’s just like when the president comes to town,” Sgt. Garrett said. “We want to ensure people are not putting themselves in danger.”

At once a symbol of Mr. Jackson’s success and excesses, Neverland became the site of a makeshift memorial after his death Thursday. Scores of fans have streamed past the gated entrance to leave handwritten notes, photographs, balloons and flowers.

Mr. Jackson was 29 and at the height of his popularity when he bought the ranch, naming it after the mythical land of Peter Pan, where boys never grow up. There, he surrounded himself with animals, rides and children.

He fled the ranch — and the country — after his acquittal on charges that he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor in 2003 at the estate after getting him drunk.

Mr. Jackson moved luxury cars, artwork, jewelry, costumes and other property off the ranch last year for an auction that never occurred.

Associated Press writers Michael R. Blood, Noaki Schwartz and Thomas Watkins contributed to this report.

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