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Lawyers scramble over Michael Jackson's assets

Lawyers scramble over Michael Jackson's assets

As fans, stars and politicians attended a massive memorial service for Michael Jackson in Los Angeles yesterday, lawyers were weighing up his various debts and assets.

AS fans, stars and politicians attended a massive memorial service for Michael Jackson in Los Angeles yesterday, lawyers were weighing up his various debts and assets. 

Michael Jackson is worth more dead than alive, one business and entertainment lawyer in Toronto said yesterday. 

Lawyer Eb Reinbergs said Jackson's assets far outweigh his debts, and that there should be enough to pay off his many creditors. 

"Jackson had music in a vault locked away. He has always over-recorded for every album that he has produced, meaning of the 12 or 13 songs that were on the album there were another 12 or 13 that didn't make it, and there is nothing to say that the music is less viable than the music that was actually put out," Reinbergs told CTV News Channel. 

"There is a lot of music to come out, there's a lot of usage of his image and likeness for years to come. There will be books, there will be movies. This thing is going to blow up and there will be more money than anyone ever could have imagined."

And since Jackson's own spending habits were the main threat to the value of his assets, "with Michael, may he rest in peace, no longer spending that money, the estate can benefit from the increase in the value of the assets over time", Reinbergs said. 

The singer's 2002 will names his personal attorney from 1980 to 2006, John Branca, and music executive John McClain as the executors of his estate. Superior Court judge Mitchell Beckloff appointed them to the administrative role on Monday, despite Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson's, objections. 

Beckloff said the authority Branca and McClain have is to maintain the status quo and to prevent losses to the estate. The judge also said the administrators should inform Katherine Jackson of their efforts to settle potential liabilities of the estate with AEG Live related to the 50 concerts Jackson was to perform in London.

In a 1 July petition, Branca and McClain said they believe the value of the estate exceeds $500 million and consists almost entirely of non-liquid assets, including Jackson's interest in the Sony/ATV music publishing catalog. 

Branca and McClain have temporary control until 3 August, when the judge will hear further arguments as to who should be in control of the estate. 

"It may be that on 3 August you'll convince me that Katherine Jackson should be at the helm of this ship," the judge told lawyers for the singer's mother. 

Meanwhile, the attorney representing Jackson when he was acquitted of child molestation in 2005 said today he fears the trial was the beginning of the end for the late King of Pop. Thomas Mesereau led the winning legal team as Jackson was declared innocent at the end of a five-month trial, which pried into his private life and questioned his relationship with young boys. 

"The trial hurt him, for sure, because after the trial, he left Neverland never really to return. I don't think emotionally he was built to go through a horrific experience like that five-month criminal trial, and I wonder whether he ever really recovered," Merereau said. 

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