Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why Is James Brown’s Estate Still Unsettled? Ask the Lawyers

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-02-12/e0461b2a-415e-4890-a460-a5536f189336.pngJames Brown, the King of Soul, tragically passed away on Christmas Day, 2006. Since his death, over a dozen lawsuits have been filed relating to the disposition of his estate. Brown’s carefully crafted estate plan originally sought to provide millions of dollars to underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia. To this day, eleven years after his death, not one intended beneficiary of his will has seen a single penny. Part of the problem with settling the estate stems from a dispute between Brown’s children and grandchildren and his spouse, Tommie Rae Hynie. The grandchildren and children are alleging that Hynie has engaged in illegal, behind-the-scene dealings with the estate involving copyrights for a number of songs Brown wrote. Another issue is Hynie’s status as Brown’s legitimate heir. There is some evidence indicating that Hynie was married to another man in 2001, the year she was wedded to Brown. Marc Toberoff, an attorney for the grandchildren and children, stated that Brown’s estate “has long been marred by dubious back-room dealings between the Estate and James Brown’s putative wife, Tommie Rae Hynie, as described in our lawsuit.” However this issue is eventually settled, it looks as though the needy children in Georgia and South Carolina will have to wait for aid until Brown’s family settles their disputes against his estate.

See Steve Knopper Why Is James Brown’s Estate Still Unsettled? Ask the Lawyers, The New York Times, February 4, 2018.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  


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