Michael Jackson and Diana Ross
Michael Jackson said in a 2002 will filed Wednesday that he wanted his mother, Katherine, to care for his three children in the event of his death — and that he wanted Diana Ross to raise them if his mother could not.
The will, filed in a Los Angeles court, leaves his estate to the Michael Jackson Family Trust, the details of which were not made public. But TVGuide.com has learned it includes Jackson's children, members of his family, and charities. It does not include his father, Joseph Jackson, with whom Jackson had a strained and tumultuous relationship.
The will excludes Deborah Rowe, who bore Jackson's two older children. Her attorney, Marta Almli, said Rowe had no comment.
Look back on Jackson's career
The will's executors, attorney John Branca and Jackson family friend and music executive John McClain, said in court documents they were "not certain of the value of the estate" but estimated it at more than $500 million.
"The most important element of Michael's will is his unwavering desire that his mother, Katherine, become the legal guardian for his three children," Branca and McClain said in a statement. "As we work to carry out Michael's instructions to safeguard both the future of his children as well as the remarkable legacy he left us as an artist we ask that all matters involving his estate be handled with the dignity and the respect that Michael and his family deserve."
See Jackson's influence
Branca brokered some of Jackson's most lucrative deals, including his 1985 purchase of the Beatles publishing catalogue for $47.5 million. Jackson's company, ATV, merged with Sony in 1995 to create a massive publishing catalogue that now includes songs by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Eminem. Jackson's stake has been estimated at about $1 billion
Branca represented Jackson from 1980 to 2006, and the singer rehired him just weeks before his death.
Watch Jackson with The Jackson 5
Jackson's mention of Ross highlighted his unflagging trust in the Motown icon, an inspiration and guide to the singer since his days in The Jackson 5.