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Judge clears path for challenge of Jackson executors

  • Story Highlights
  • Ruling: Katherine Jackson can safely challenge the executors of her son's estate
  • Superior Court judge's decision sets up a possible trial on the matter
  • Questions raised of conflicts of interest, fitness of 2 men who control the estate
  • Court papers revealed $86,000-a-month allowance to Jackson's mother, 3 children
By Alan Duke
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Katherine Jackson can safely challenge the men who control singer Michael Jackson's estate without risking her benefits from her son's will, a judge has ruled.

Katherine Jackson and Joe Jackson attend the funeral for their son on September 3 in Glendale, California.

The decision by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff, which was released Friday, sets up a possible trial in which Katherine Jackson can try to gain control of her son's estate.

Burt Levitch, a Jackson family lawyer, has said they have questions about possible conflicts of interest and the fitness of John Branca and John McClain, who were named as executors in the will the singer signed in 2002.

A provision in Jackson's will said that any beneficiary who contests it could be risk their benefits, but Beckloff's ruling said Katherine Jackson's challenge of executors "would not be a contest within the meaning of the Trust's no contest clause."

Beckloff has already set aside a week in mid-November for a trial to determine if Branca and McClain are fit to run the pop icon's estate.

Court papers made public Thursday revealed that Jackson's mother and his three children are getting an allowance totaling more than $86,000 a month from the estate. The money is in addition to the maintenance of the home -- which is owned by the estate -- in Encino, California, where Katherine Jackson lives with her grandchildren, the documents said.

Katherine Jackson was granted custody of her son's three children soon after Jackson's June 25 death. She and the children were named beneficiaries, along with unnamed charities, in Jackson's 2002 will.

Petitions filed by Branca and McClain in July -- and later approved by Beckloff -- outlined $26,804 in monthly expenses for Katherine Jackson.

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The largest amount from that -- $4,722 -- goes to pay for an assistant for her. Another $3,500 each month is budgeted for clothing for Mrs. Jackson, who is 79 years old. She's also given $2,000 each for a housekeeper and driver. She has a $1,500 entertainment allowance each month, the documents said.

The details of the children's budget are mostly blacked out at their lawyer's request. Margaret Lodise told the judge there was concern someone could use the financial information to pose as one of the children online. She told CNN the family was aware of people posing as Jackson children with Twitter accounts.

The documents did reveal the three children get a combined $60,000 a month from their father's estate. They pay $14,600 a month for salaries and payroll taxes for people who take care of them, according to the petition. The children also get $13,260 each month for entertainment and related expenses, the papers said.

The petition estimated Michael Jackson's estate is worth at least $500 million and is growing.

Major deals have been reached in the past month that are expected to add tens of millions of dollars to the estate, including a movie and music deal with Sony.

CNN's Oscar Merino contributed to this report.

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