Michael Jackson's Revocable Living Trust Posted

I must have missed the news yesterday, but thanks to Julie Garber's Wills and Estate Planning Blog I found out that Michael Jackson's Revocable Living Trust was posted yesterday at the News of the World site.  As I have previously written, Michael Jackson had a "pourover" will that was filed with the Court back in June of 2009.  A pourover will provides that all of his assets pour into his revocable living trust, and the real disposition of his estate is governed by the Trust.

I wrote at the time that, "A will is public and is filed with the court.  A trust is not.  There is no obligation to disclose the terms of the trust to the public.  Certain beneficiaries are entitled to copies of the trust however, and it's possible that one of them might leak it at some later point in time," which is exactly what appears to have happened.

In a series of posts, I speculated as to what Michael Jackson's Revocable Trust provided.  Let's see if I was right.

On July 1, 2009, I wrote, "For example, there may be a trust that provides Katherine Jackson with all of the income from the trust, plus principal for her health support and maintenance for the rest of her life. When she dies, the contingent remainder beneficiaries may inherit what is left (probably also in trust)." Now, let's look at the actual Trust document:

[Editor's Note: The image is a reproduction of the original trust document]

I was sort of right.  The Trust does provide for Katherine Jackson's "support and maintenance", but in addition, also provides for her care, comfort, and well being. These standards are much more liberal than support and maintenance and will allow the Trustees to make large distributions to her, if they feel it is appropriate.

But I was absolutely right on the main point -- that whatever Michael Jackson left his mother, he left it to her in trust and not outright. In my July 4, 2009 post, "How Michael Jackson and his mother will avoid paying estate tax twice (and how you can too), I wrote, "if the property is distributed to a trust in which an Independent Trustee is responsible for determining when, and for what purposes, the trust assets are distributed to her, then upon her death, the property in the Trust will not be subject to the estate tax a second time. "  As we can now see, that's exactly what happened.

I'll write more about what the Trust provides, and whether or not I correctly guessed what would be in it over the next few days.

Visit South Florida Estate Planning Law for more commentary from Florida estate planning attorney David Shulman.

Click here to link to the complete copy of Michael Jackson's revocable living trust, posted on South Florida Estate Planning.