Judge allows mother to challenge Jackson estate

A judge has ruled that Michael Jackson's mother can challenge the men currently administering her son's estate without losing her substantial stake.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff's ruling clears the way for Katherine Jackson to challenge whether lawyer John Branca and music executive John McClain are best-suited to handle the singer's estate, which has been estimated to be worth more than $500m (£300m).

Lawyers for Katherine Jackson had asked Judge Beckloff to decide whether she could challenge the administrators without invoking a "no contest" clause that would cause her to lose her 40 per cent share of the singer's estate.

Beckloff ruled that such a challenge would not be a cause for Mrs Jackson to be disinherited. Most of Mrs Jackson's arguments for why the motion should be approved have been sealed, but Judge Beckloff noted in his ruling that they raised several issues, including whether Michael Jackson was under "undue influence" when he signed his 2002 will.

Mrs Jackson's lawyer, L Londell McMillan, said they were pleased with the ruling, and added that it may lead to an agreement that doesn't require further motions on the matter.

"We now hope to resolve the outstanding administration matter, without further costly litigation, in the best interests of the beneficiaries which are Mrs Jackson and her grandchildren," he said in a statement.

Mr Branca and Mr McClain have already brokered several deals that have earned the singer's estate tens of millions of dollars. Mrs Jackson's legal team have not objected to most of them, although they raised concerns about a deal involving concert promoter AEG Live for a memorabilia exhibit.

It was revealed this week that Mrs Jackson is receiving more than 26,000 dollars per month from her son's estate, as well as another 60,000 dollars per month to care for her three grandchildren. Michael Jackson designated his mother as his choice to care for his children, who range in ages from 7 to 12.

Judge Beckloff granted her permanent guardianship of the children in early August.

Although Michael Jackson's music has sold briskly since his death on June 25, and a movie based on his final concert rehearsals is due to be released next month, the singer died heavily in debt.