Part II: James Brown’s Estate Isn’t Settled 12 Years After Death

| Nov 9, 2018 | Probate & Trust Administration

Regular readers of our Brevard County legal blog will undoubtedly recall that in a previous post we shared information about the Godfather of Soul. Twelve years after James Brown’s death, his estate is yet to be settled, Forbes reports.

As we mentioned last time, there were important issues that the legendary could have resolved before his passing by sitting down with a skilled estate planning attorney. One of those unresolved problems: was he actually married toTomi Rae Hynie, ostensibly his fourth wife. Or was their marriage invalid because she was already married to another man when she and Brown tied the knot.

Of course, because Hynie’s previous husband was married to another woman at the time he and Hynie wed, you can see that settling Brown’s estate is a complex matter. Good news, though: in Brown’s home state, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided earlier this year that Hynie’s pre-Brown marriage was void and that she is actually Brown’s surviving spouse.

Since the ruling, Hynie has settled her claims with the estate.

That left to be resolved the question of whether Hynie’s son – James Brown II – is the singer’s biological son. The soul legend’s other heirs claim Brown had a vasectomy in the 1980s. However, DNA tests have proven that Brown II is the son of Brown I.

Other fights continue: Brown’s heirs filed suit in January against Hynie, Brown II, the administrator of the estate and the trustee of a trust Brown established over the copyrights to Brown’s music.

Unfortunately, much remains to be resolved in negotiations or in court between people who were important in Brown’s life, but find themselves divided over legal and financial matters.