James Brown's wishes drags on

February 8, 2008 7:35:13 AM PST
An attorney for five of James Brown's children questioned the late soul singer's ex-trustees during a court hearing on whether they hid one of Brown's earlier wills.

The former trustees dismissed the allegation Thursday, saying the only valid will was the one filed in 2000, which left clothes, jewelry, boats and automobiles for Brown's six adult children.

The children were largely left out of the financial portion of that will, which leaves the bulk of the soul singer's money to charitable trusts.

Attorneys for the children argue that earlier wills drafted by their father cast doubt on whether he truly wanted to leave his estate to charity.

Ex-trustee Alford Bradley, who spent years handling Brown's financial affairs, said the singer changed his will several times.

"When Mr. Brown would fall out with somebody, he would change his will," Bradley said.

Brown died in Atlanta in December 2006, throwing into turmoil his will and the future of his trust. The contents and total value of both are still unclear.

Five of Brown's children say their late father's 2000 will should be invalidated because his former advisers used undue influence to get him to create charitable trusts that the advisers would profit from.

Judge Jack Early, who has been overseeing the dispute over Brown's contested fortune, asked the trustees why they never mentioned a 1999 will to court-appointed representatives of Brown's estate.

Bradley said he didn't think the earlier will was valid. Buddy Dallas, a longtime friend and Brown adviser, said it never came up.

Also Thursday, a lawyer representing the Brown children accused Dallas of trying to transfer assets to the trust after Brown died, citing a document that listed some of Brown's possessions. Dallas disputed that claim.

"When you have lost a dear friend, I guess you're not as sharp as you'd like to be," he said.

At the end of the hearing, the judge dismissed reporters and the public from the courtroom, saying he wanted to hear suggestions for how to dispose of the estate. He also said administrative matters needed to be taken up.

The next hearing will be Feb. 20.

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