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Katherine Jackson lawyer believes settlement possible

  • Story Highlights
  • Katherine Jackson lawyer has hopes for settlement with son's estate executors
  • Ruling: Katherine Jackson can challenge the executors of her son's estate
  • Superior Court judge's decision sets up a possible trial on the matter
  • Court papers revealed $86,000-a-month allowance to Jackson's mother, 3 children
By Alan Duke
CNN
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Katherine Jackson's court challenge of the men who control Michael Jackson's estate will continue, although her lawyer said he hopes a judge's decision will lead to an out-of-court settlement.

Katherine Jackson and Joe Jackson attend the funeral for their son on September 3 in Glendale, California.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff ruled last week that Katherine Jackson, the pop star's mother, could safely contest the executors without risking her benefits from her son's will, a judge ruled.

"She will never lose her inheritance," Jackson lawyer Londell McMillan said. "Nonetheless, Mrs. Jackson's court victory does not comfort her grieving over the loss of her beloved son Michael Jackson."

Burt Levitch, another Jackson family lawyer, has said they have questions about possible conflicts of interest and the fitness of John Branca and John McClain, who were named as executors in the will the singer signed in 2002.

Although the probate process is not complete, Beckloff gave Branca and McClain temporary control of the estate as special administrators. The judge still must review and approve major contracts.

A provision in Michael Jackson's will said that any beneficiaries who contest it could be risking their benefits, but Beckloff's ruling said Katherine Jackson's challenge of executors "would not be a contest within the meaning of the trust's no-contest clause."

Beckloff has set aside a week in mid-November for a trial to determine whether Branca and McClain are fit to run the pop icon's estate. But McMillan suggested in a written statement Monday that the leverage given the family by the ruling may be enough.

"We now hope to resolve the outstanding administration matter, without further costly litigation, in the best interests of the beneficiaries, which are Mrs. Jackson and her grandchildren," the attorney said.

Court papers made public Thursday revealed that Michael Jackson's mother and his three children are getting an allowance totaling more than $86,000 a month from the estate. The money is in addition to the maintenance of the home -- which is owned by the estate -- in Encino, California, where Katherine Jackson lives with her grandchildren, the documents said.

She was granted custody of her son's three children soon after Michael Jackson's June 25 death. She and the children were named beneficiaries, along with unnamed charities, in Jackson's 2002 will.

Petitions filed by Branca and McClain in July, and later approved by Beckloff, outlined $26,804 in monthly expenses for Katherine Jackson.

The largest amount from that -- $4,722 -- goes to pay for an assistant for her. Another $3,500 each month is budgeted for clothing for Jackson, who is 79. She's also given $2,000 each for a housekeeper and driver, and she has a $1,500 entertainment allowance each month, the documents said.

The details of the children's budget are mostly blacked out at the request of their lawyer, Margaret Lodise. She told the judge that there was concern someone could use the financial information to pose as one of the children online. She told CNN that the family was aware of people posing as Jackson children with Twitter accounts.

The documents did reveal that the three children get a combined $60,000 a month from their father's estate. They pay $14,600 a month for salaries and payroll taxes for people who take care of them, according to the petition. The children also get $13,260 each month for entertainment and related expenses, the papers said.

The petition estimated that Michael Jackson's estate is worth at least $500 million and is growing.

Major deals have been reached in the past month that are expected to add tens of millions of dollars to the estate, including a movie and music deal with Sony.

CNN's Oscar Merino contributed to this report.

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