A will drafted by Michael Jackson in 2002 which divides the singer's estate among his mother, three children and one or more charities could play a central role in determining how his tangled financial relationships will be unwound.
Several people close to the late Jackson said that a lawyer for the pop singer could submit the will, believed to be his last, to Los Angeles Superior Court as soon as Thursday. That filing would cap a tense period in which relatives and advisers of the late singer debated what document, if any, was valid.
One or two other earlier wills have emerged since Jackson's death last Thursday, according to people familiar with the situation. The Associated Press reported that Jackson's parents, Joseph and Katherine Jackson, said in a Monday court filing that they believed the singer had died without a valid will. Joseph Jackson isn't believed to be included in the most recent will.
In an email message, a lawyer for Jackson's parents said neither he nor his clients had seen the 2002 will. "No will has been presented to family or us," wrote the lawyer, L. Londell McMillan, who also once represented Michael Jackson. "We will review any will when we see it."
McMillan said that he had spent much of Monday trying to ensure that Jackson's mother would receive custody of the singer's three children. A Los Angeles court on Monday granted her temporary custody pending a hearing in July. McMillan said the family is "pleased" with that decision. It wasn't clear what custody arrangements are called for by the 2002 will.
This will names as executors lawyer John Branca and a veteran music executive named John McClain who was also a friend of Jackson. Branca, who served as Jackson's primary attorney between 1980 and 2006, wrote the will. Jackson had rehired Branca the week before his death last Thursday. Branca didn't respond to requests for comment Monday; McClain couldn't be reached.