Posted on September 16, 2009

Judge: King Children Must Meet to Discuss Estate

Errin Haines, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 14, 2009

A judge has ordered the surviving children of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King to hold a shareholders’ meeting to discuss their father’s estate.

The Rev. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III sued their brother, Dexter King, last year to force him to open the books of their father’s estate. The lawsuit claimed Dexter King, the estate’s administrator, has refused to provide documents concerning the estate’s operations.

Coretta Scott King died in 2006 and Yolanda King, the Kings’ eldest child, died in 2007–leaving the three remaining siblings as the sole shareholders and directors of their father’s estate. It is set up as a corporation, but there has not been an annual shareholders’ meeting since 2004.

Dexter King has also sued his sister, who administers their mother’s estate. He has asked a judge to force his sister to turn over Coretta Scott King’s personal papers, including love letters central to a now-defunct $1.4 million book deal.

The siblings’ relationship has deteriorated in the tense climate created by their legal battle.

At least part of the legal battle could be headed to a jury trial next month. At issue would be whether Dexter King acted financially inappropriately in his role as president and chief executive officer of his father’s estate.


Dexter King, who lives in California, did not attend Monday’s hearing. Attorneys said he was hospitalized for several weeks after the car accident, has had to use a walker and is not allowed to travel because he cannot sit in one position for long periods of time.