Michael Jackson’s $500 Million Estate Debt and How To Avoid the Mistakes That Created It.

It has been eight years since the death of 'The King of Pop', yet his estate is still in distress.  


Michael Jackson will forever be the ‘King of Pop’, however, his untimely death in 2009 revealed that he left behind a debt of $500 million for his estate.

Jackson had been known for his lavish taste in furniture, artwork, and ownership of musical rights. Ultimately, this left him with surmounting debt. Forensic accountant William R. Ackerman has spoken publicly about Jackson’s spending habits.


“On an annual basis [he was] spending 15 to 20 million dollars a year more than he brought in.” - William R. Ackerman, Forensic Accountant.


These estate problems didn’t end with his tremendous debt. He also left executors to oversee his estate of which his family does not approve.

Jackson named lawyers John Branca and John McClain as executors of his estate. It remains unclear why McClain and Branca had been chosen to fulfil the role, but family disputes are speculated to have influenced the decision.

The public has witnessed the Jackson family’s issue with Michael’s choice of executors.  Michael’s youngest sibling, Janet Jackson, has stated that “We do not respect you as executors,” as well as accusing Branca and McClain of fraud.


“I don’t think a lawyer is the right candidate for this job, unless there’s absolutely no one else.”  - Gideon Rothschild (Manhattan firm, Moses & Singer)


Jackson’s estate raises issues that could affect the estates of non-celebrities as well. Learning from these mistakes can help you plan for your family’s financial future while avoiding family feuds. To avoid the issues plaguing the Jackson estate, follow these simple steps.


  1. Make sure your debts are paid or brought to your executor’s attention.

    1. Let your family or executor know about all of your outstanding debts or financial obligations. Leaving your family with hidden debt only compromises its ability to achieve financial freedom.


  1. Choose an executor that your family knows and trusts.

    1. Never undervalue trust when planning your future. Even though a lawyer might not possess any biases about your estate, naming a family member as your executor decreases the probability of family arguments.


  1. Name a lawyer or financial advisor who has your best interests in mind.

    1. Know the difference between someone who cares about your well-being. Build this relationship before it’s too late.

    2. Introduce your family to your lawyer or financial advisor ahead of time. This establishes trust and open lines of communication, mitigating confusion and conflict in the future.



Keeping your estate debt-free is incredibly important, and choosing an executor your family trusts is a crucial step in doing so.


If you’re looking for more advice on how to protect your estate and select your executor, you can download this complimentary Inheritance Planning Guide or visit ERAssure.com.



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