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Family rules out Neverland funeral

4 min

Michael Jackson's family has said no funeral will be held at the star's Neverland estate as the singer's will was made public. The document named soul legend Diana Ross as back-up guardian to Jackson's children in case of mother Katherine's death.


AFP - The family of Michael Jackson ruled out holding a poignant funeral at the star's Neverland estate on Wednesday as the singer's will was made public for the first time.

An army of journalists and crowds of fans had flocked to Jackson's sprawling Neverland Ranch estate on Tuesday after reports the King of Pop's body would be placed on display for a public viewing before a private service on Sunday.

However, the Jackson family dispelled frenzied speculation that the funeral could see Neverland evolve into a permanent resting place for the icon similar to Elvis Presley's Graceland in Memphis.

"Contrary to previous news reports, the Jackson family is officially stating that there will be no public or private viewing at Neverland," a statement released by the family's public relations firm said.

"Plans are underway regarding a public memorial for Michael Jackson, and we will announce those plans shortly."

The Los Angeles Times reported earlier that the Jackson family's hopes of burying the singer at his sprawling rural estate northwest of Los Angeles had fallen victim to red tape.

However, Santa Barbara County communications director William Boyer told AFP Wednesday that authorities had never received any contact from the Jackson family concerning the funeral.

"We would love to be able to talk directly with the Jackson family or their representatives," Boyer said. "We've been trying to reach them directly. We've had no formal contact at all. There's been no requests."

Local media reported a public memorial for Jackson may now be held at the 20,000-seat Staples Center or the bigger Los Angeles Coliseum, venue for the 1984 Olympic Games.

The confusion over Jackson's funeral arrangements came as the picture surrounding the star's estate appeared to clear with the emergence of a 2002 will filed at Los Angeles Superior Court.

In yet another surprising twist to the aftermath of Jackson's death, it was revealed that soul legend Diana Ross had been named as a back-up guardian to the singer's children in the event of his mother Katherine's death.

The five-page document also revealed the singer's assets were to be left in the Michael Jackson Family Trust but the terms of the trust were not disclosed.

Documents filed in addition to the will valued Jackson's estate at more than 500 million dollars, although it was not clear how that figure had been reached. Jackson was believed to be heavily in debt at the time of his death.

While Katherine Jackson was named as carer for the pop icon's children, soul legend Ross, 65, was named as guardian if the singer's mother died before him.

Three associates for Jackson -- attorney John Branca, music executive John McClain and accountant Barry Siegel -- were named co-executors of the will.

There was no mention anywhere of Jackson's father Joe in the will while the document also confirmed no provisions had been made for ex-wife Debbie Rowe.

On Monday a court granted Katherine Jackson temporary guardianship of the singer's children, Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and Prince Michael II, 7, and appointed her as temporary administrator of her son's estate.

A judge rejected a move by Branca and McClain to have Katherine Jackson removed as administrator of the estate. A hearing has been set for July 6.

Jackson died from an apparent cardiac arrest on Thursday aged 50. A cause of death has not yet been determined pending the results of toxicology tests.

However there was renewed speculation linking the singer to powerful prescription drugs Wednesday amid reports that the sedative Propofol -- often used as an anesthetic in hospitals -- was found at his home.

"There is no conceivable way this drug can be properly prescribed for home use," a source told, which described the drug as an "extremely dangerous and potent" substance only available to medical personnel.

Earlier, a former nurse who cared for Jackson told CNN the star pleaded with her to provide him with Diprivan -- the brand name for Propofol -- in the last months of his life.

Police detectives are reportedly seeking to identify and interview "multiple doctors" who treated Jackson in the years before his death.

Meanwhile Jackson had shot to the top of the charts in the United States on Wednesday with Billboard revealing that the singer's music occupied nine of the top 10 spots on the Top Pop Catalog Album chart.

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