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Heirs and beneficiaries of James Brown lock horns over legacy

Soul music icon James Brown entertained rock and roll music fans in Illinois and throughout the nation for decades. At the age of 73, the “Godfather of Soul” passed away in 2006. Since then, those who believe themselves to be his lawful heirs and beneficiaries have been engaged in a contentious battle in probate court. The situation has only escalated in the past 12 years, and several cases are now headed for federal court.  

Brown’s legacy situation is quite complex, and those involved would be hard-pressed to try to go it alone in court. When complications arise regarding a final will and testament, it is always best to seek experienced legal support. In this particular case, nine of Brown’s children are battling over their father’s estate and, in particular, copyright laws. The woman who claimed to have been his most recent wife (who has a son with Brown) says she is fighting for all that she is entitled to in her late husband’s $100 million estate; she also says he erred in forgetting to add her and her son to his final will.  

When this woman, a former backup singer for Brown, married the soul artist, she reportedly was already secretly married to another man from Pakistan who, in turn, claimed to have at least three other wives of his own. The woman said he only married her to gain U.S. citizenship; a court has since ruled that her marriage to the man was never valid and does not impede the legitimacy of her marriage to Brown. Making matters worse, some have accused the woman of lying when she claimed Brown as the biological father of her, but the boy has apparently taken to DNA tests to prove Brown’s paternity.  

Brown’s nine children have asserted that their father’s former backup singer is trying to beat the system and undermine their lawful interests in their father’s music under the Copyright Act. If indeed the court rules that the woman is legally Brown’s surviving spouse, she would be entitled to 50 percent on those interests. Multiple litigation situations that are connected to one estate often take months or years to resolve, and heirs and beneficiaries facing similar problems in Illinois can better protect their rights if they act alongside aggressive legal support. 

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