Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, November 22, 2014

James Brown Estate In Limbo

James brown

A companion of music legend James Brown has requested an Aiken Court in South Carolina ban several of Brown’s children from participating in hearings that will determine if Brown had a spouse when he died in December 2006. 

According to filings in the Brown estate case, defining Brown’s marital status will affect the rights of his children as well as his education charity. 

Under Brown’s 2000 will, companion Tomirae Hynie inherited nothing, which left his music empire to the “I Feel Good” Trust for education needy children in South Carolina and Georgia.  In 2007 Hynie contested the will, claiming to be Brown’s wife and entitled to a spousal share of his estate.  After a settlement deal in 2009, Hynie was given one-quarter of the estate and the six children were given another quarter. 

The South Carolina Supreme Court overturned this settlement in 2013, calling the deal a “dismemberment” of Brown’s “noble” estate plan.  As a result of the ruling, Hynie has renewed her spousal claim, and her motion for summary judgment is scheduled next week. 

Although Hynie and Brown exchanged vows in a 2001 ceremony, Hynie was married to another man at the time.  She later obtained an annulment, but Brown refused to marry her.    

See Sue Summer, SC: James Brown Companion Moves To Ban DNA-Proven Children From Estate Hearings, Watchdog Wire, Nov. 14, 2014. 

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2014/11/james-brown-estate-in-limbo.html

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