A family allowance is a amount of money which the Probate Court can order the estate of a decedent to pay to persons who the decedent was obligated to support or who the decedent was in fact supporting at the time of his death. Priority goes to family members such as a surviving spouse or minor children but parents and brothers and sisters can also request an allowance if they were supported in whole or part by the decedent. The family allowance must be reasonable in amount and is in the discretion of the judge based on the circumstances. The allowance, once ordered, continues until there is a final distribution of the estate or by further court order.
An unusual situation has arisen in the case of Michael Jackson’ estate. Joe Jackson, the father of Michael Jackson, is seeking a family allowance in excess of $15,000 per month, claiming that he was dependent on his son for support. Michael did not provide for his father in his will or trust. The father and son had been estranged for years and Michael had stated he did not want his father to receive any part of his estate. Michael apparently was not supporting his father in the sense of writing him checks.
Jackson filed a petition in the Los Angeles Probate Court claiming his only income is $1770 from social security and his expenses exceed $15,000 per month. The Court has already ordered family allowances for Michael’s children and mother. An evidentiary hearing will be he held in May, 2010. It will be interesting to see if the LA court orders an allowance on the theory that Michael supported his mother and she apparently gave some of that money to the father. As with many issues surrounding the singer’s death, stay tuned.