James Brown’s family settles estate lawsuit   

Attorneydiction.com,- The heirs of legendary singer James Brown have reached a “global settlement” ending the legal wrangling over the estate of the Godfather of Soul, the law firm representing the personal representative of Brown’s estate and trustee of his irrevocable trust and Brown’s adult children has announced. 

The settlement agreement, which was agreed to on July 9 following a two-month mediation, is between the estate, Brown’s children, and Tommie Rae Brown, who claimed to be Brown’s fourth and final wife. 

The law firm Nexsen Pruet announced the settlement on July 24. Details of the settlement have not been revealed. 

“Based on the terms of the settlement, our client is not able to make any comments at this time, and the settlement amount remains undisclosed,” Michelle Legaspi, a communications specialist representing Nexsen Pruet wrote in an email. 

David Black was Nexsen Pruet’s lead litigator on the matter, according to the release. 

Brown was born in Barnwell in 1933 and died in Atlanta on Christmas Day 2006. He lived most of his life in South Carolina and Georgia, his final years spent in Beech Island, where he was also buried. 

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Spanning 15 years, disputes over Brown’s estate have included multiple court battles that ended up in the state’s appellate courts. In July 2020, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that Tommie Rae Brown wasn’t James Brown’s surviving spouse entitled to a share of the estate, overruling a decision that had voided Tommie Rae’s previous marriage to another man. 

In that ruling, South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty bemoaned the “detrimental effects” of the long-running litigation. 

“Brown’s estate planning documents indicated that he intended the bulk of his wealth to be used to support his charitable trust,” Beatty wrote. “The ongoing litigation since Brown’s passing has thwarted his expressed wish that his estate be used for educational purposes, a fact confirmed by the parties in this case, who acknowledged that no scholarships have been paid for students to date, a point we find both extraordinary and lamentable.” 

The law firm’s announcement also noted the long-running nature of the dispute. 

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“Numerous legal disputes ensued regarding his multimillion-dollar Estate, involving wide-ranging legal issues, Brown’s marriage to Tommie Rae Brown, the Estate’s recovery of payments, intellectual property rights and the valuation of one of America’s most celebrated musical catalogs, resulting in one of the most protracted Estate litigations in South Carolina history,” the release states. “The historic settlement is welcomed by all.”

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