*(Via Rolling Stone) – During his brilliant, troubled life, James Brown always called his own shots. So it wasn’t a surprise that Brown set the terms of his legacy after his death. And the centerpiece of that vision was to give virtually his entire fortune, valued then at roughly $100 million, to a trust to help educate underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia.
But nearly five years after his Christmas Day death in 2006, not one needy child has received a penny. That’s because Brown’s seven children and fourth wife, Tomi Rae Hynie, contested the will in a South Carolina court less than a month after he died. The litigation spiraled into a bitter battle with some two dozen attorneys representing various factions – and became so unwieldy that then-state Attorney General Henry McMaster made a deal in 2009 that affirmed Brown’s will but split the estate between the trust and his family, with the legal expenses borne by the trust.
The settlement was denounced by Brown’s advocates, including his longtime attorney Buddy Dallas. “How do you argue against an irrevocable will that provides for needy children? Is that even an argument?” he says. (The attorney for Brown’s children responds that the basis of his clients’ claim was that the singer had received bad advice and didn’t know what he was signing.)