AIKEN, S.C. – The trust handling James Brown's estate owes more than $70,000 for his elaborate funeral and care of his body for nearly three months before it was laid to rest in March, according to the funeral director who handled the soul singer's arrangements.
"I'm just waiting on them to get some of this mess straightened out," said Charles Reid, manager of the C.A. Reid Funeral Home in Augusta, Ga., which handled Brown's funeral. "I really haven't pushed the issue, even though I'd like to have my money."
Some of the funeral costs have already been paid and trustees have mailed a check to Reid this week covering the outstanding balance, Brown's longtime adviser and trustee Buddy Dallas said Wednesday.
"It was the children that ran up a funeral bill of over $150,000, not the trustees," Dallas said. "We've done our very best to do what we could to accommodate the creditors. There's no great big pile of money or surplus of money just lying around."
Louis Levenson, an attorney for Brown's six adult children, said Wednesday it is the trust's responsibility to pay for the funeral costs, which he considers a "reasonable" amount.
Brown's children filed a motion this week asking a judge to provide accounting records of Brown's trust and estate before and after the singer's death, Levenson said.
Brown's children also filed two other motions Tuesday. One claims Brown's trustees have been trying to sell off some of their father's assets against court orders and the second motion asks a judge to modify his previous order that appointed two special administrators to help Brown's trustees settle his estate, giving them more control.
Dallas called the allegations in the motion "bogus and baseless."
"The trustees and the personal representatives are certainly not going to do anything — as much scrutiny as this has been given — improper, inappropriate and certainly not illegal," Dallas said.
A hearing is scheduled for later this month on the motions filed by Brown's children and a motion filed on behalf of the singer's partner, Tomi Rae Hynie. She is asking a judge to appoint a special guardian for her son, the first step toward determining the child's paternity.
An e-mail and a message left for Robert Rosen, Hynie's attorney, was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Brown died Dec. 25 in an Atlanta hospital and his body was placed in a crypt at the Beech Island home of one of his daughters March 10.
The crypt might not be Brown's final resting place. Brown's family has said a public mausoleum will be built and its location will be announced once it is completed.