COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - After years of hearings in a protracted
battle over how to parcel out James Brown's wealth, a South
Carolina judge approved a settlement Tuesday that gives nearly half
of it to his charitable trust, about a quarter to his wife and
young son, and the rest to Brown's adult children.
The settlement was a contrast to the instructions spelled out in
Brown's will and trust after his death on Christmas Day 2006. Some
of Brown's adult children contested the bequest, claiming their
father's estate was mismanaged by trustees.
"I find that the settlement is just and reasonable and provides
a just and reasonable result for the charitable beneficiaries,"
Judge Jack Early wrote. "From the perspective of the charitable
beneficiaries, the risks of not approving the settlement agreement
The exact value of Brown's assets has not been made public.
However, during numerous court hearings since the Godfather of
Soul's death, there have been claims of unpaid debts, inadequate
accounting and misappropriated money.
Some of the soul singer's possessions were auctioned for
$850,000, partly to pay debt. Attorneys have said the soul singer's
accounts have little money in them. The future income - from
movies, royalties and the sale of Brown's likeness - is what's
really at stake, attorneys have said.
The settlement establishes that Tomi Rae Hynie Brown is the
surviving spouse of the Godfather of Soul and her son is James
Brown's child. James Brown II will not be required to take a DNA
"I am so relieved and happy that the court has approved this
settlement," Brown's widow said in a statement to the AP. "I want
to be able to work with the trustees and other Brown family members
to promote James Brown's legacy. My son James and I are grateful to
the judge and hope this nightmare is finally over."
More than three years, as thousands attended public memorial
services, the legal rifts surrounding his estate formed. It even
took a couple of months for Brown to be buried, his body at one
point resting in a sealed gold casket inside his South Carolina
A will filed in Aiken County on Jan. 18, 2007, called for many
of Brown's personal possessions - clothes, jewelry, boats and
automobiles - to be divided among six of his adult children. But
the legitimacy of the will and trust was quickly called into
Louis Levenson, an attorney for Brown's adult children, said he
had not yet reviewed the judge's order.
The judge also wrote that Brown's relatives will create a museum
or other memorial burial place for the late singer. Brown was
interred March 10, 2007, at the Beech Island home of one of his
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