One bombshell excepted.
The five-page, seven-year-old document, signed on July 7, 2002, was filed in Los Angeles court this morning. In it, the King of Pop gives custody of his three children to his mother, Katherine, and stipulates that all his estate and assets—which, as previously reported, hovered around $567 million in 2007, with a net worth of $236.6 million—be placed in the private Michael Jackson Family Trust.
As for that surprise…
In the document, Jackson names Diana Ross as his choice for alternate guardian of his kids in the event his now 79-year-old mother was unable to raise them.
"If any of my children are minors at the time of my death, I nominate my mother, Katherine Jackson as guardian of the persons and estates of such minor children.
"If Katherine Jackson fails to survive me, or is unable or unwilling to act as guardian, I nominate Diana Ross as guardian of the persons and estates of such minor children."
It's unclear if the choice is as much news to Ross as the rest of the world or if Michael Jackson had ever approached her about the responsibility.
The former Supreme certainly never let on, as the statement she released in the wake of her former Motown stable mate and Wiz costar's death simply said she was "in prayer for his kids and the family."
Also name-checked in the will is the (recently disputed) mother of his eldest two children, Deborah Rowe, of whom Jackson writes: "I have intentionally omitted to provide for my former wife."
According to the will, Jackson's estate "consists of non-cash, non-liquid assets, including primarily an interest in a catalog of music royalty rights which is currently being administered by Sony-ATV, and interests in various entities."
The document was written up by the late star's longtime lawyer John Branca and veteran music exec and family friend John McClain, both of whom were named as executors of both the will and the Jackson estate.
However, despite what's laid out in the will, during a probate hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court this morning, a judge ruled that Katherine Jackson will at least temporarily remain as special administrator of her son's estate.
Paul Hoffman, the attorney representing Branca and McClain, requested immediate control over the estate, stating that they were worried small items could possibly be removed from the house before the reins were handed over.
Hoffman also expressed concern that Katherine was "exceeding her powers" as administrator of the estate as it pertained to "accessing cash." He also indicated that Branca and McClain wanted to negotiate a deal on the $85 million in ticket sales for Jackson's would-be London comeback concerts before the ticket money is refunded.
A second probate hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Monday, with Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff opting not to rule on the request due to a lack of urgency...and, apparently, desire to avoid a nasty public battle.
"I would like the family to sit down and try to make this work so that we don't have a difficult time in court," the judge said.
Hoffman argued that the wait, which spans just one-and-a-half court days due to the holiday weekend, was unnecessary as he does not believe any other possibly contradictory will may surface.
"None of his financial advisors are aware of another will," he said.
As for the will his advisors are aware of...
"The most important element of Michael's will is his unwavering desire that his mother, Katherine, become the legal guardian for his three children," Branca and McClain said in a joint statement.
"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."
While the will was originally expected to be filed in court yesterday afternoon, it didn't make it to the courthouse until this morning to give the Jackson family time to review the document.
As for the Jackson estate, it's already under new management.
In the wake of not exactly well-received press conferences from Joe Jackson, the crisis management public relations firm of Sitrick and Company has confirmed to E! News that they are now representing the pop star's estate.
—Reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum and Ashley Fultz
(Originally published on July 1, 2009, at 9:36 a.m. PT)