Thu, July 02, 2009
Entertainment > Celebrity > King of Pop Michael Jackson dies

Will Diana Ross care for Jackson's three children?

2009-07-02 02:47:54 GMT2009-07-02 10:47:54 (Beijing Time)

The fate of Jackson's children 'Blanket' (in his arms), Paris and Prince was laid out in his will

Michael Jackson and Diana Ross's friendship dates back to the 1960s

Diana Ross has been named in Michael Jackson's will as guardian to his three children in the event his 80-year-old mother is unable to care for them.

In the much-awaited five-page document, which was lodged in the Los Angeles high court yesterday, Jackson makes no mention of wanting his ex-wife Debbie Rowe to play any role in raising the children.

Instead, he states his marriage to Rowe has been dissolved and categorically bars her from receiving a penny from his estate.

Jackson left the bulk of his fortune - estimated at £303million when the will was drawn up on July 7, 2002 - to a family trust.

His elderly mother Katherine is named as beneficiary of the trust and as the guardian of his children, Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Prince Michael II, known as Blanket.

His estate is said to consist of 'non-cash, non-liquid assets, including an interest in a catalogue of music royalty rights, which is currently being administered by Sony-ATV, and interests in various entities'.

The will was drawn up by Jackson's long-time lawyer, John Branca, and veteran music executive John Mclain, both of whom were named as Jackson's executors.

However, the document fails to give any guidance on several crucial issues, including how or where Jackson wanted to be buried, or about how his fortune is likely to be shared out.

However, despite these omissions, fans and reporters began to gather outside the singer's Neverland ranch in California last night after reports surfaced that his body will go on public display there.

Various sources have claimed that a public viewing has been scheduled tomorrow ahead of a private funeral on Sunday.

Any settlement is likely to be further-complicated by the singer's debts, which are believed to amount to as much as £250million.

Jackson's friendship with Miss Ross dates back to their days working together on the Tamla Motown record labels in the 1960s.

The pair also starred together in The Wiz, a 1978 musical version of The Wizard of Oz.

Friends of Jackson say the singer looked up to her as a mother figure and reportedly even used plastic surgery to copy some of the 65-year-old former Supremes singer's facial features.

Miss Ross, who has never spoke of her role as a guardian to Jackson's children, said of his death: 'My heart is hurting. I am in prayer for his kids and the family.'

Since Jackson's death last Thursday, there have been doubts raised over whether the 50-year-old singer was the biological father of the three children.

The mystery surrounding their conception also took a further twist yesterday after rumours surfaced that Rowe may not have been the natural mother of the eldest two.

In his will, Jackson wrote: 'I have intentionally omitted to provide for my former wife.'

Rowe, who married Jackson in 1996 but filed for divorce just three years later, has had little to do with the children's upbringing.

She has refused to confirm whether she will contest Mrs Jackson for custody.

Jackson's lawyer also confirmed last night that the delay in filing the will at the Los Angeles Superior Court was because he wanted the family to review it first.

'The most important element of Michael's will is his unwavering desire that his mother Katherine become the legal guardian for his three children,' Mr Branca said.

The Michael Jackson Family Trust, which remains confidential, is thought to leave the bulk of his assets to his mother and his children as well as several charities.

According to U.S. reports, the trust makes no mention of Jackson's father Joe, who has been accused of beating him as a child. Mail Online reported.

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