AIKEN - The will of legendary musician James Brown was filed Thursday in Aiken County and specifies that personal belongings from his Beech Island estate, including boats, automobiles and jewelry, will be divided among six of his children.
The will makes no mention of Tomi Rae Hynie Brown, a backup singer in his band whom he married more than a year after the will was drafted in August 2000. The document also doesn't mention her 5-year-old son, James Joseph Brown II, who was born more than 10 months after the will was finalized.
"We believe this will to be the controlling document of Mr. Brown's intent," said Strom Thurmond Jr., the singer's Aiken probate attorney. "These (children listed in the will) are the only six children."
Mrs. Brown not only was excluded from the will, she also was not listed as his widow on his death certificate. The certificate, among 20 documents filed in Aiken County Probate Court late Thursday, states that he was widowed and lists Adrienne Lois Rodriguez, to whom he was married from 1984 to 1996, as his deceased wife.
She died in 1996 at age 45 after cosmetic surgery in California.
The information in the death certificate was provided by Yamma Brown Lumar, one of his daughters from an earlier marriage to Deidre Jenkins.
In the application for informal probate of will, Mr. Brown's attorney checked "no" for the question that asks whether the singer had a change of marital status or had any more children after the will was drawn Aug. 1, 2000.
James II was born June 11, 2001, and the singer married Mrs. Brown on Dec. 14, 2001.
Mr. Brown's attorneys have disputed that Mrs. Brown was legally married to the late soul singer and also have questioned whether the couple's child is his son.
In his will, Mr. Brown states, "I have intentionally failed to provide for any other relatives or other persons ... Such failure is intentional and not occasioned by accident or mistake."
The document also states that claims on his estate from anyone not listed in the will "shall be considered an affront to my wishes and shall be challenged as such by my fiduciaries."
The six heirs listed in the will are Deanna J. Brown, Ms. Lumar, Vanisha Brown, Daryl Brown, Larry Brown and Terry Brown, all adult children from previous relationships.
The document calls for them to receive equal portions of Mr. Brown's "personal and household effects."
Buddy Dallas, one of Mr. Brown's attorneys and a trustee of his estate, said there is no document detailing which heir gets what. The will gives his trustees - Mr. Dallas, David Cannon and Alford Bradley, the authority to divide the property if the heirs can't do so among themselves.
The value of the late soul singer's estate is not listed in the will. Mr. Thurmond and his partner, Ray Massey, said they have yet to even enter the musician's Beech Island estate to start the appraisal process or determine what will be considered part of his estate and what will be included in Mr. Brown's irrevocable trust.
They have 90 days to file the appraised value, with the option to appeal for more time. Appraisers who specialize in memorabilia will be used.
"They will have experience with these types of estates, with entertainers who have passed away," Mr. Massey said.
No one had contested the will as of Thursday, though Mrs. Brown has vowed she would if she or her son were left out.
She said she's been locked out of Mr. Brown's estate since his death Dec. 25.
"I'm really not worried about it," Mrs. Brown said Thursday when questioned by phone about the will. She said her attorneys had advised her not to discuss it.
Mr. Thurmond said he had spoken repeatedly with Mrs. Brown's attorney, Robert Rosen, but would not discuss the meetings. Messages left with Mr. Rosen seeking comment were not returned Thursday.
The controversy over Mr. Brown's marriage to Mrs. Brown stems from her previous marriage to Pakistani Javed Ahmed.
The two married in 1997, but it was annulled in 2004 on grounds that the marriage was never consummated and allegations that he used her to obtain a green card.
The singer's attorneys say her marriage to Mr. Brown is not legal because the couple never remarried after her first marriage was annulled.
The couple's relationship was tumultuous.
After Mr. Brown was arrested in January 2004 on charges that he pushed her to the floor during an argument, he filed but later withdrew an application to annul his marriage to her, and in 2003, he ran a full-page ad in Variety announcing that the couple had decided to go their separate ways.
Her attorney, Mr. Rosen, told the Associated Press earlier this week that she will sue for 50 percent of Mr. Brown's estate and trust, and James II will get one-seventh of the other 50 percent.
Under South Carolina probate law, if a person makes out a will before a child is born, the child receives the same portion he or she would have had the parent died without a will.
Mr. Dallas said Mr. Brown made his own decisions. He said if Mr. Brown was alive, no one would have the audacity to question his decisions.
Now that the will is public, Mr. Dallas said, the trustees can carry out his instructions. He said the family is discussing plans for the Beech Island property and mausoleum to house Mr. Brown's body.
Staff writers Mike Wynn and Johnny Edwards contributed to this article.
Reach Josh Gelinas or Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395.
Reach Josh Gelinas or Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395.