by Bobby Fleet, The Chicago Times

July 24, 2021

COLUMBIA, SC — An attorney participating in the mediation stated Friday that the family of late singer James Brown had reached a settlement, ending a 15-year struggle over the late musician’s inheritance.

The arrangement was made on July 9, according to David Black, an attorney representing Brown’s estate.  The terms of the settlement were not made public.

Since his death on Christmas Day 2006, at the age of 73, there has been legal battle over the Godfather of Soul’s estate.  Years of weird headlines followed Brown’s death, beginning with Tomi Rae Hynie, a former girlfriend who claimed to be his wife, being shut out of his 60-acre (24-hectare) estate while journalists filmed her sobbing and shaking its iron gates, demanding to be allowed in.

Brown was known around the world for his dazzling performances and powerful stage presence, and was acclaimed for hundreds of great musical works, including hits like “I Feel Good” and “A Man’s World.”  However, years of drug abuse and poor financial management caused his estate to diminish.

Over the years, more than a dozen lawsuits have been filed by parties attempting to lay claim to the singer’s assets, which courts have estimated to be worth anywhere from $5 million to more than $100 million.

The battle over Brown’s estate even erupted into a debate over what to do with his body.

For more than two months, family members argued over Brown’s remains, placing his body, still in a gilded casket, in cold storage at a funeral parlor.  Brown was eventually laid to rest at the house of one of his daughters near Beech Island, South Carolina. 

The South Carolina Supreme Court concluded last year that Hynie was not lawfully married to Brown and hence had no access to his multimillion-dollar estate.  The justices also directed that a circuit court “promptly proceed with the probate of Brown’s estate in accordance with his estate plan,” which called for the establishment of a trust to use his music revenues to finance educational expenses for youngsters in South Carolina and Georgia.