Inside the Battle Over Michael Jackson's Estate

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 6, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: When the dust settles, there could be so much money, hundreds of millions of dollars if the right people and handle Michael Jackson's estate the right way.

A few hours ago, a judge ruled in favor of the executors listed in Jackson's 2002 will. We spoke to Howard Weitzman, lawyer for the Jackson estate executors.


VAN SUSTEREN: Who are the two co-executors?

HOWARD WEITZMAN, ATTORNEY FOR CO-EXECUTORS OF MICHAEL JACKSON'S ESTATE: John Branca, John McClain. John Branca is one of the world's most recognizable music attorneys, John McClain a childhood friend of Michael Jackson's, a very well respected and known music executive. Two really skilled, experienced individuals.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have they ever been executors of will before? That's a prerequisite, I'm just curious.

WEITZMAN: To my knowledge, they have not been, although John Branca has administered a number of estates of recognizable people, whether it's the Presley estate, the Doors, Janis Joplin. They both (ph) have experience in dealing with probate courts and the administration of estates.

VAN SUSTEREN: The actual business of running this estate could be immensely complicated.

WEITZMAN: It will be. Myself and Joel Katz and two attorneys representing McClain and Branca are assembling a team of lawyers to look after the various aspects of Michael's opportunities.

VAN SUSTEREN: It seems to me that has value -- this is a terrible thing to say, but much greater in death than in life.

WEITZMAN: Here's what I think. If he had lived, and was able to go back out on tour, then you'll see at some point I think of video, just a reversal of the tour that was expected, and he could continue that for a number of years, I almost think the opportunities would have been unlimited, because he sold out instantly and would have continued to sell out arenas all over the world.

That didn't happen. Because it didn't happen and he never had that opportunity, I agree with you. I think the assets, the music, the video, the publishing, will increase tremendously because of his death. People want to continue to remember him and his legacy.

VAN SUSTEREN: The most similar situation I can think of probably is Elvis Presley's death. When Elvis Presley died, Graceland was not Graceland. Elvis Presley did not have a perfect balance sheet at the time. And then, of course, with very effective handling of the estate, it became a million-dollar industry.

WEITZMAN: We think the opportunities could be even greater than what was recognized and realized in the Presley estate.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now in terms of Neverland, hypothetically, so that people understand it, whether that could ever be anything like a Graceland, those business decisions will now be made by the executors. Is that correct?

WEITZMAN: Yes. They will be made by John Branca and John McClain.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of the people who take under the will, it has been reported that his mother, his children, and some terrible organization?

WEITZMAN: Thousand percent correct. The will designates three beneficiaries specifically, children's charities, which have yet to be designated, but we have an idea what Michael would have liked, and in due course, we'll implement those opportunities -- the children, and Katherine Jackson.

VAN SUSTEREN: To people who have never had to go through states, what these two co-executors, they actually step into the shoes of Michael Jackson, right?

WEITZMAN: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: They made all the decisions on the catalog, on Graceland, how to handle disbursements to the children.

WEITZMAN: That's right. They step into Michael's shoes. They have advisers, much like Michael did, although in some cases, because of their expertise, they won't need to hire experts.

But we intend to put together a team of people that will marshal the assets, expand the opportunities, and, we think, create a legacy not just for the beneficiaries, but for the millions and millions of fans worldwide.


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