Thursday, August 18, 2011

After Five Years, James Brown's Body Is Still Not in Its Final Resting Place; His Family Continues to Fight Over His Money

Five years after James Brown died from congestive heart failure at the age of 73 at a hospital in Atlanta, his body is still sitting in his daughter's back yard as the family bicker in and out of court, trying their darndest to get a a share of his estimated $100 million fortune. Most of the legal challenges are coming from backup singer Tomi Rae Hynie, who married the "Godfather of Soul" on December 14, 2002, but the marriage's validity was questioned because at the time she said "I Do" to James, she was legally married to another man for a Green Card. That sham marriage was annulled, but not until April 2004 -- two years after she supposedly "married" James. On June 11, 2001, she gave birth to a son, James Brown II; his paternity is still in question. James filed for an annulment and in 2003, he took out a full-page ad announcing the end of his relationship to Tomi Rae. But, something happened.
"This is the most screwed up thing I have ever experienced in my entire life," James' longtime attorney and friend Alfred "Buddy" Dallas told The Enquirer. "How can a man pay a lawyer $20,000 to set up his estate plan and then have a court just ignore what the man did?" lamented Dallas, an Augusta, Ga., lawyer who was with the "I Feel Good" singer when he wrote his will. According to Dallas, James summoned a group of people to his office in 1999, including a court stenographer and a videographer. "He said, 'I have prayed about this repeatedly, and I've been given so much that I must give it back, and I've chosen to give it back to needy children.' He then said, 'And I'm not going to sign the will today.'" According to Dallas, the will was finally signed on Aug. 1, 2000, in front of a few of the performer's seven children and his fourth wife, 42-year-old Tomi Rae Hynie. James reiterated his plans shortly before he died on Christmas Day 2006 at the age of 73, added the attorney. Yet less than a month after his death, James' children and Tomi Rae contested the will in a South Carolina court. The litigation that followed involved so many attorneys and became so complicated that, in 2009, a South Carolina judge split the estate between the trust and the family. The judge also decided that James' body -- which has been interred in a temporary crypt on his daughter Deanna's Beech Island, SC, property -- should be moved to a place that will draw millions of visitors ad make a fortune. That settlement was denounced not only by Dallas, but also by former producer Jacque Hollander, who says James wanted her to oversee the trust intended to benefit poor and needy children in Georgia and South Carolina. At this point, however, no one has seen a penny of the estimated $100 million estates -- neither the area's needy children nor the singer's family. And his body is still in the crypt at his daughter's property.

Source: National Enquirer, Aug. 29, print edition.
A mess, we tell you. A mess! James Brown signed the will ten months before James II was born and more than a year before his "marriage" to Tomi Rae. Like Brown's will, his irrevocable trust -- which covers the disposition of music rights and business assets -- named his six children as recipients, but not Tomi Rae and James II (pictured, below). Did she not know this while she watched him sign the will in her presence? Because this case is so complicated, PBS is airing a special this November and December called "Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune!" that'll serve as a lesson to everyone to protect themselves -- no matter how much money you have. (Someone needs to send ailing diva Etta James an advance copy, STAT!) As these people argue like entitled brats, thousands of starving and otherwise needy children -- who can really benefit from this money -- are being held hostage by the family's greed. Which reminds us. Has the singer's been located? Last year, LaRhonda Pettit, who's one of James Brown's daughters born to one of many jumpoffs, claimed the singer's body has "disappeared" from the crypt. "I have no clue where it was taken, but I need to know where," she said. "I'm convinced his death was suspicious and I want the people responsible brought to justice. The only way to do that is to exhume his body and have an autopsy. I cannot understand why one was never conducted." A mess!

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Heloise said...

What a sad shame. Money is truly the Root of all evil. Never have that many children and never marry that many wives if your have money you will regret it. Poor James brown has not yet rested in peace.What a sad shame.

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