Analysis of James Browns Will

I found James Brown’s will to be very interesting. It starts off pretty basic with a revocation clause that revokes all previous will’s and codicil’s, but what I find most interesting, is his second paragraph where he states that he only has six children when he really has ten. At first I thought it was a mistake until is saw the sentence that read’s “such failure is intentional and not occasioned by accident or mistake”. Although James Brown was a good person I have yet to understand why he chose a select amount of children leaving the rest out and then adding that he intentionally did it.  I also noticed that in item I of his will, he gives his personal and house hold effects to his clamed children in equal shares, and per stirpes to any grandchildren whose parent did not survive him. Meaning that the grandchild would receive the same share their parent would have received. Also in Article I, he states that if his issue does not agree to the split of his personal effects, his personal representative will make the division among them which I think is a really wise way to keep them from fighting. James Brown’s will contains a Pour-Over trust in Item II, and also his residuary clause in which pours over into the trust after the will is executed, so the remainder of his estate will be private because only the grantor and the trustee(s) has access to the principal. As for his trustee(s), instead of selecting one of his many children or a family member, he chose three of his lawyers to act as a trustee. The rest of the item’s in his will are basic items a will contains but I think that Item IX was very clever to add in because it say’s if the will gets probated somewhere else in which any part of the will is inappropriate, instead of striking out the will, just ignore the portions that are invalid or illegal. Brown’s will also include a in terrorem clause which states that if anyone contests his will in probate and loses, they will lose their gift in the will.  I found James Browns will to be very interesting because I saw new things in his will that I have not seen previous. I think him as well as his lawyers was very careful and wise about drafting it. The only thing about his will that left me curious was his intentionally leaving out certain children from inheriting.

Challenges against James Brown’s will

James brown left his personal and household belongings to his six adult children, two million dollars in a family trust to pay for the education of his grandchildren, with the rest passing into a charitable trust through a will. Despite Brown’s clear wishes, his heirs and Tommie Rae Hynie, who claimed to be his wife, challenge the validity of his will and trust, accusing the estate planning attorney who prepared the documents, and others, of undue influence.

The claims of Hynie and Brown’s hier created enough confusion to attract the attention of the South Carolina Attorney General. His office had legal responsibility of protecting all charitable trusts in South Carolina, including Brown’s. The Attorney General came to a settlement that recognized Hynie and her son as legitimate heirs (without DNA test) of James Brown. Regardless of Brown’s wishes, the compromise awarded approximately 25% of Brown’s assets to Hynie, another 25% to Brown’s six children as named in his will, plus James Brown II, with only one-half remaining for charity. This settlement was approved by the surrogate’s court. Three acting trustees of Brown’s charitable trust were removed from their position through this settlement. They later appealed, arguing that the settlement was against Brown’s clear wishes.

In May, 2013, the battle over his estate finally came to an end. South Carolina Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s approval of a settlement reached by James Brown’s family members and the attorney general at the time. South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the settlement was not “just and reasonable” and in fact the heirs’ claims that started the legal battle were not made in good faith to begin with. The Supreme Court also ruled, “The compromise orchestrated by the Attorney General in this case destroys the estate plan Brown had established in favor of an arrangement overseen virtually exclusively by the Attorney General.” The Court determined the Attorney General’s actions were unprecedented and contrary to his legal duty to protect and enforce charitable trusts. On the other hand, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower courts decision on trustees taking advantage of their fiduciary duty, and removed them immediately. James Brown’s original estate plan was back in effect under new trustees.

James Brown’s Will in Litigation

James Brown also know as the “Godfather of Soul” not only left behind a legacy of music,culture and dance, he also left behind a large estate and will that would be wrangled over for years to come. James Brown died in 2006, but the legal battle over his estate had been going on ever since. Brown’s will left his entire estate to a charitable trust, and personal effects and such to his named children in the will and nothing to his surviving spouse Tommie Rae Hynie whom he married back in 2001. The issue  that arose was whether Tommie Rae Hynie was in fact legally James Brown’s spouse? Tommie Rae Hynie had married another man in 1997 she then filed for an annulment of that marriage in 2004, the same year James Brown filed for an annulment of his marriage with Tommie Rae Hynie.After Brown’s death, Hynie contested his will, claiming that she had been married to Brown at the time.  A South Carolina judge agreed, which in turn allows Tommie Rae Hynie to possibly inherit even though she is not mentioned as an heir in James Brown’s will. In Brown’s case, he wasn’t married at the time he wrote his will in 2000, so of course he wouldn’t have made an allowance for a spouse he didn’t have, but that doesn’t matter. The omitted spouse statute requires only that:

  • The deceased person be married at the time of the will;
  • The spouse isn’t named in the will (or intentionally excluded); and
  • The spouse isn’t provided for in some other way, like in a trust.

Judge Doyet A. Early III’s decision doesn’t resolve whether Hynie can inherit anything or how much she may be entitled to. To date Tommie Rae Hynie has not collected any would be inheritance even though she has proven in court that she was indeed legally married to James Brown at the time of his death.


The Last Will and Testament of James Brown

The Last Will and Testament of James Brown was drafted by the offices of H. Dewain Herring, LLC of Columbia, South Carolina and was published on August 1, 2000.

The will consists of an introductory clause/preamble, followed by 10 main items/clauses. The introductory clause and revocatory clause were combined into one paragraph.

Mr. Brown made use of separate written memoranda to dispose of his personal effects, such as apparel, vehicles, furniture and books, as well as the insurance intended to protect such items. Copies of the memoranda were not published, so the exact distribution of these items was kept private. In the occasion that not all items were covered by the memoranda, or if the memoranda were not found, instructions were left to distribute items to his surviving children, in equal shares (or to the issue of a deceased child).

Mr. Brown’s appointed personal representatives were charged with the distribution of his personal effects and packing/shipping costs were instructed to be charged against the estate as an administrative expense.

An inter vivos trust was created to dispose of all other property not covered by the memoranda. The beneficiaries of this trust were Mr. Brown’s 3 co-trustees. Property was placed in the trust using a pour over gift, keeping the contents of the trust private.

An executor clause was placed in the will which provided detailed instructions regarding the naming of personal representatives and the naming of successor representatives should the need arise. The definition of a personal representative, and powers, fees and voting rights for said representatives was also covered.

The final item in the will is an interrorum clause, meant to discourage anyone from the contesting the will. It states that any beneficiary, who contests the will, will forfeit their interest, and that interest will pass to another. It also reiterates that anyone not specifically provided for in the will has no standing to challenge its contents. This would prove to be problematic, since the will did not provide for a child that was born to Mr. Brown and his wife after its execution.

The testimonium, attestation and self-proving affidavit were combined on the final page of the document. Only two witnesses were used, one of them being the Notary Public.

The self-proving affidavit was manually altered to change both the state and county of execution. The possibility of this causing Mr. Brown’s place of domicile to be called into question was covered by item IX in the will-the Severability and State Law to Govern clause. This clause basically states that the will should be regulated and governed by the State of South Carolina.





Biography of James Brown

Biography of James Brown

James Brown was a musical genius who was commonly referred to as “the godfather of Soul” along with many other nicknames such as “the sex machine” and “Mr. Dynamite”. James Brown was born in Barnwell South Carolina, as James Joe Brown Jr on May 3, 1933. Browns family was very poor and could not afford clothes for their children, so they used old rags and socks to make up articles of clothes to go out in. When Brown as four years old his parents split up, and browns mother (Susie) left Brown with his father (Joe) who would care for him. Not being able to find work, Joe moved Brown and his aunt to Georgia to live with his aunt who was a madam and ran a brothel in Atlanta Georgia.

When Brown was young and his family did not have enough money to buy him clothes, he used old rags and socks to make him clothes and boxers. He worked numerous jobs as a child to try and earn money so can he could afford to buy clothes to go to school in. He shined people’s shoes, and danced by a nearby navy yard for money. When Brown turned 12 years old his school kicked him out for having insufficient clothing. It was in the middle of the great depression and Brown turned to working his jobs full time for money. One day Brown father brought home an old pump organ in which Brown played and discovered he had a natural talent for music. This is also the start of his singing in the choir at his church which inspired him to become a musician. Life wasn’t easy being poor, so to make up for the money Brown needed to survive, he started stealing from unlocked cars. When brown was sixteen he got caught stealing a car and received a sentence of three years in prison.

While Brown was in jail he made a friend that would lead him to great success. Two years after being released from jail, Brown received a phone call from this friend, Bobby Byrd, inviting him to become a member of his soul singing group. James accepted and soon became the head vocalist in the group and renamed it “The Famous Flames” in 1956. They performed at night clubs and recorded a song called “Please, Please, Please” for King Records and became number 6 on the R&B charts. Within months they had their first contract. They toured for a year doing openings for people like Ray Charles and Little Richie, but their success was short lived because none of their other songs rose to the same success as their original hit “Please, Please, Please”, so they returned home in 1957.
Although the Famous Flames did not reach super-stardom, Browns single act did and his career took off. James moved to New York and recorded “Try Me” which reached number 1 on the R&B music charts. From then on, James Brown’s career was kick started. James Brown was described to be a soulful singer and musician by his fans. Brown constantly toured and came up with different dances such as; the mash potato, the popcorn and the camel walk. Brown married numerous times to many different woman in his career in this order, Velma Warren 1953 (divorced 1969); Deidre Jenkins 1970 (divorced 1981), Adrienne Lois Rodriguez 1984 (died 1996); and Tomi Rae Hynie who was his final wife.
On October 24th, 1962 in Apollo Theater in Harlem Brown recorded a live concert that his record label King Records, did not think would be a good idea. Soon after his live performance rose to number 2 on the charts for pop music, and showed his fans as well as his record company that he could perform many different types of music. By 1967 brown had made all different types of music including Jazz, Pop and R&B music. He toured, made and performed many of his hits including “It’s a Man’s World”; Papa’s got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You”. Although Browns music was tailored towards an older audience, he also used his fame to reach out to the younger black community and encourage them to stay in school. In 1966, Brown recorded a song called “Don’t be a Drop Out” as a plea to the black community to stay in school.
Not only was James brown a powerful soul, R&B, Jazz and sometimes Rap Musician, He also was a social activist for the black community. James Brown coming from poverty and not being able to get a proper education when he was younger, supported Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s efforts to empower the black community. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, in1968 James Brown took to the TV to perform a concert to prevent people from rioting and succeeded. Months later Brown Recorded a song that would later be sung passionately by his peers and the black community years to come named “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”.
James Brown In the 1970’s and 1980’s wrote many hits but in 1970’s his career fell off track due to financial troubles. In 1980, Brown made a comeback in the film The Blues Brothers. In 1985 he wrote a hit called “Living in America” that was featured in the movie “Rocky IV” and put the king of soul back on top. In 1986 Brown released his first book titled James Brown; The Godfather of Soul. Although his career was back on the rise, in 1988 when brown attended a school to speak, he showed up high on PCP and carrying a shot gun. He took the police on a half hour chase through Georgia before he was captured and sentenced to 15 months in prison. In 1991 when Brown was released he began touring and performing again only to discharge a rifle and yet again lead the cops on another car chase and be sentenced to 90 days in a rehabilitation center to get sober.
When brown was released from rehab, he continued making hits and even starring in some movies including The Tuxedo with Jackie Chan, and Undercover Brother as the star. In 2005 he released his second book, I Feel Good: A Memoir of a Life and Soul. The following year in 2006 Brown struggled with a case of pneumonia in which he did not survive, passing on Christmas day. James Brown left behind ten children, five girls and five boys, as well as millions of fans that will miss and never forget him.

James Brown, (last visited Apr 22 2015).
Brown, James. (last visited May 6 2015)
White, Cliff. (last visited May 6, 2015)

James Brown sharing stage with Michael Jackson

James Brown was unquestionably one of the greatest music legends in the history of entertainment. During his life, he left many mark on people, many were inspired by him. Another music legend, Michael Jackson, said himself that no one has influenced him more than James Brown. Below is a rare footage of two legends sharing one stage. Brown wanted to make a difference in the words even after his death, so he created the biggest charitable trust in the history of South Carolina with almost all of his estate. The trust was created to provide education related services to disadvantaged children of his.