LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson's 7-year-old will was filed Wednesday in a Los Angeles court, giving his entire estate to a family trust and naming his mother as a beneficiary of the trust and the guardian of his three children.
The will names singer Diana Ross as a successor guardian to 79-year-old Katherine Jackson if necessary.
The will, dated July 7, 2002, estimated his estate at that time at more than $500 million. It gives the entire estate to the Michael Jackson Family Trust. His former wife Debbie Rowe is cut out of the will.
The documents said Jackson's estate consisted almost entirely of "non-cash, non-liquid assets, including primarily an interest in a catalogue of music royalty rights which is currently being administered by Sony ATV, and the interests of various entities."
It also names Jackson's longtime lawyer John Branca and John McClain, a music executive and a family friend, as co-executors of the will.
Jackson, who died Thursday at age 50, left behind three children: son Michael Joseph Jr., known as Prince Michael, 12; daughter Paris Michael Katherine, 11; and son Prince Michael II, 7. Rowe was the mother of the two oldest children; the youngest was born to a surrogate mother, who has never been identified.
The children are named in the will.
In a statement, Branca and McClain said: "The most important element of Michael's will is his unwavering desire that his mother, Katherine, become the legal guardian for his three children. As we work to carry out Michael's instructions to safeguard both the future of his children as well as the remarkable legacy he left us as an artist we ask that all matters involving his estate be handled with the dignity and the respect that Michael and his family deserve."
Katherine Jackson was granted temporary guardianship Monday of Jackson's three children. A judge held off on requests to control the children's estates, and gave her limited control over her son's troubled, but lucrative finances.
Rowe, who was married to Jackson in 1996 and filed for divorce three years later, surrendered her parental rights. An appeals court later found that was done in error, and Rowe and Jackson entered an out-of-court settlement in 2006.
Neither Rowe nor her attorneys have indicated whether she intends to seek custody of the two oldest children.