by Josh Grossberg | Mon., Jul. 23, 2012 4:01 PM
But as E! News reports, all of the behind-the-scenes drama concerning her late son's estate, leading up to Katherine's so-called "disappearance," paints a less-rosy picture—a portrait of infighting going on not just among family members, but also between the Jacksons and the estate's co-executors, John Branca and John McClain.
Here's what's at stake.
Per information filed by the executors of Jackson's estate during initial probate hearings in 2009 and obtained by E! News, Jackson's last will was dated July 7, 2002, and the sole beneficiary of that will was the Michael Jackson Trust and Jackson's three children, Paris, Prince Michael and Prince Michael II aka Blanket.
Among other key findings:
• Katherine was appointed guardian of the minor children, but since she had no income other than Social Security, Branca and McClain, as the estate's administrators, authorized that she receive $26,804 a month (with Social Security deducted from that amount).
• Additionally, the estate agreed to continue to pay all expenses pertaining to the residence she's lived in for the past 30 years including the mortgage, property taxes, maintenance, insurance, utilities, landscaping, etc.
• The children were authorized to receive $60,000 a month total, but that amount was to be paid directly to Katherine. No other family members beside Jackson's children and Katherine were authorized to receive an allowance from the estate.
• Katherine and the kids were the sole designated beneficiary of the King of Pop's life insurance policy.
• At the time of his death, Jackson's estate was estimated to be worth more than $500 million.
Last week, Katherine's nephew Trent reported the 82-year-old matriarch as missing late Saturday night, saying she hadn't been heard from in over a week. Adding to the worries, Paris tweeted that she hadn't spoken to her grandmother either.
Apparently, neither of them talked to Katherine's son Jermaine Jackson, who tweeted that his mother was "fine" and "resting up" in Arizona on doctor's orders.
When asked if purportedly disappearing for a week without her grandchildren's knowledge could affect her guardianship arrangement, attorney and family law specialist Doreen Olson tells E! News that, so long as the kids' needs were being met in Katherine's absence, then there is likely no violation.
"If she chooses to go on a vacation and leave the kids with her aunt and that aunt is buying them clothes, giving them shelter, etc., then I don't think there would be any cause for someone to have her removed as guardian," Olson said.
"Anyone with possible rights to guardianship could petition the probate court to terminate the guardianship and assume it," says Olson. "They would have to file that petition based on significant reasons, again showing detriment."
Taking a vacation and leaving the kids in someone else's responsible care is not a problem, the attorney reiterated. Leaving them unattended would be.
A guardian "steps into the shoes of the parent," Olson said.
Before today's pic surfaced showing the elder Jackson apparently safe and sound in Arizona, Zia Modabber, an attorney for Branca, told E! News that his client was "concerned" about all the news surrounding her purported disappearance and was "paying close attention to what is going on."
Meanwhile, adding to speculation that some family members wouldn't mind rewriting M.J.'s will in their favor, the surviving members of the Jackson 5 have hit the road again with what they're (ironically) calling the Unity Tour and performing hits from their classic catalog. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, 11 stops out of the 27-date trek have been cancelled and ticket sales have been sluggish to say the least, suggesting the brothers may have a hard time keeping the act alive without Michael.
Rumors of internecine family warfare also got a boost after Us Weekly reported last week that Janet Jackson was "furious" that Paris landed a role in the upcoming film Lundon's Bridge and the Three Keys because it's not what her dad would've wanted.
A source told the magazine the "Rhythm Nation" diva felt the casting "goes against Michael's wishes to keep his kids out of the limelight until age 18."
Also last week, siblings Janet, Jermaine, Rebbie, Tito and Randy fired off an angry letter to Branca and McClain, accusing them of fraud when it comes to their brother's will. However, a statement sent to E! News from estate spokesman Jim Bates dismisses such a claim.
—Reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum
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