Family still hasn't buried Brown, 'Godfather of Soul'


Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 3:13 p.m.
An attorney for a woman who says she is James Brown's fourth wife says she will sue once the soul singer's will is filed, asking a court to rule she is legally married to Brown and is entitled to half of his estate.
''At the end of the day, in my opinion, Tomi Rae Hynie will inherit 50 percent of James Brown's estate and the trust and the child, James Brown's son, will inherit one seventh of the other 50 percent,'' said Hynie's attorney Robert Rosen.
Hynie plans to contest the will as soon as it is filed and will fight to prove she is legally married to Brown all the way to the state Supreme Court, Rosen said.
Brown's will has not been officially filed in court. But his lawyers have released most of its contents.
The will was read to his family last week. It calls for his personal effects to be divided equally among the singer's six adult children. Hynie and her 5-year-old son are not included in the will, which was drawn up 10 months before the child's birth and more than a year before he married Hynie, Brown's attorney Buddy Dallas said.
Brown's lawyers say the singer's marriage to Hynie was not valid because the backup singer for The Godfather of Soul was married to another man when she exchanged vows with Brown in December 2001. They have said Hynie later annulled her previous marriage, but she and Brown never legally remarried.
Brown died Christmas Day in an Atlanta hospital. He was 73.
Brown's body remains in a sealed coffin at his Beech Island home as his family decides his final resting place.
C.A. Reid Funeral Home in Augusta, Ga., which handled Brown's funeral, delivered the body after services Dec. 30, and it is being kept in a temperature-controlled room watched by security guards, Reid said.
Rosen said he will file a request with Brown's attorneys asking that Hynie be included in the decision.
''No one disputes that she was his companion,'' Rosen said. ''They were living together as man and wife when he died. He said in his autobiography that she was his wife. He signed the birth certificate saying this was his child and I can't understand why people would be so disrespectful to her.''
Most of Brown's holdings are in an irrevocable trust separate from the will. Hynie and her son are not included in the trust, said Dallas, who also is one of Brown's trustees.
''It's left basically for the education of his grandchildren and the education of needy children,'' said Dallas, who declined to comment further about specifics of the trust.
Even though the will and trust were created before Hynie married Brown and their son was born, ''laws say you can't exclude a spouse that you're not married to at the time of the will,'' Rosen said.
North Augusta lawyer James Huff told The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle that if a will specifically names some children but excludes others, the excluded children have no claim to the parent's assets, regardless of when they were born.
Huff represented Brown when he sought to annul his marriage to Hynie in 2004, a petition the singer later dismissed.

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