James Brown’s family finally settles 15-year battle over his estate

James Brown (Photo credit: Shutterstock.com / by miqu77)

It looks like the Godfather of Soul James Brown can now rest in peace as his family has finally reached a settlement over his estate after a 15-year battle. David Black, an attorney representing Brown’s estate, confirmed to the Associated Press on July 23 that the agreement was reached July 9, but the details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Brown died on Christmas day in 2006 at the age of 73 and the fight over his finances has been going on ever since. Nearly twenty lawsuits have been filed since Brown’s death by people trying to lay claim to the singer’s assets, which courts have estimated to be worth anywhere from $5 million to more than $100 million.

The bickering also caused the singer’s body to remain sitting in storage inside a gold casket for over two months before he was buried. The “Living In America” singer was eventually buried in Beech Island, South Carolina, at the home of one of his daughters. The family initially planned to turn the home into a shrine for Brown similar to Elvis Presley’s Graceland, but the idea never materialized.

The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled last year that Tomi Rae Hynie — a former partner who claimed to be Brown’s wife, had not been legally married to Brown and therefore did not have a right to his multimillion-dollar estate. The AP also reports that justices ordered a circuit court to “promptly proceed with the probate of Brown’s estate in accordance with his estate plan,” which outlined creation of a trust that would use his music royalties to fund educational expenses for children in South Carolina and Georgia.

A 2009 settlement plan was previously denied that would have given nearly half of Brown’s estate to a charitable trust, a quarter to Hynie, and the rest to be split among his adult children. The South Carolina State Supreme Court overturned that deal in 2013, writing that then-Attorney General Henry McMaster, hadn’t followed Brown’s expressed wishes for most of his money to go to charity. McMaster, now South Carolina’s governor, instead selected a professional manager who took control of Brown’s assets from the estate’s trustees to settle debts.

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