Court Bonds

Estate Sold: James Brown


We’ve all heard of estate sales and maybe even picked up a treasure or two while attending one. But, like everything about his legend, James Brown’s recent estate sale is unique: his entire estate was purchased for an estimated $90 million after 15 years of legal battles. Now, his dream—scholarships for young people—may be closer to reality.


Please, Please, Please?

The New York Times reports that in a deal that was four years in the making, Primary Wave Music has purchased the assets of the Brown estate, “Including music rights, real estate and the control over Brown’s name and likeness.” Attorneys close to the fifteen-year legal saga, which cost millions, call it “as big a tangle as you’ve ever seen.” According to The New York Times:


The price of the deal was not disclosed but is estimated at about $90 million. The money from the transaction will be used to endow the Brown scholarship trust in perpetuity,” said Russell L. Bauknight, a public accountant who has served as the estates personal representative, or executor, since 2009. He said that once the estate is closed, he will continue to work with Primary Wave as a member of a board handling some of Browns assets.


Terms of the settlement are confidential, but Mr. Bauknight said the only beneficiaries of the estate are two trusts for education — one for Browns grandchildren, limited at about $2 million, and the other for needy children in South Carolina and Georgia, which was to receive the bulk of Browns estate — and the estate is not a party to Browns termination rights,” or reclaimed songwriting copyrights.


Although the deal with Prime Wave represents progress toward James Brown’s dream of providing scholarships, there are still legal challenges to be resolved before any funds make their way to supporting children. It seems that Mr. Bauknight and a former executor of the estate, Adele Pope, have accused each other of “trying to profit from the estate,” and their outstanding cases are under appeal. As an expert from Charleston School of Law explains, each and every claim against an estate must be resolved before any assets can be distributed.


Wake Up Call?

The sad case of James Brown’s deferred dreams underscores what estate planners implore all of us to do—whether our assets are few or many: communicate our intentions to loved ones and organize our affairs while we have the time. This includes having difficult conversations if need be. Though not all relatives may agree with our plans, understanding the intentions might lead to the honoring of them when the time comes. Remember, contesting a will is costly and time-consuming, with private affairs becoming public and the distribution of assets delayed. Estate bonds can also be important since they protect the interests of the estate and beneficiaries in accordance with the law. Sometimes these fiduciary bonds are even specifically requested during the probate process. Colonial Surety makes it quick and easy to get an estate bond, from anywhere, anytime, online. Estate Bond Here


Good To Know

Helping children attain their educational goals is life-changing—for individuals and families. Consider setting up a trust dedicated to the education of those you care about. Unlike a will, a trust, overseen by a trustee, allows for periodic distributions to the named beneficiaries. Learn more about educational trusts right here–and don’t forget the trustee bond.


Inheritance Litigation?

Colonialdirect, fully digital, user-friendly I-Bond® system reduces the time, hassle and expense typically associated with antiquated bonding processes. In addition to providing bonds directly to the general public, Colonial offers The Partnership Account® for Attorneys. This free business service provides user-friendly client management dashboards, enabling attorneys to easily coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need. See for yourself today: The Partnership Account® for Attorneys.


Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of surety bonds and insurance products.  Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.