First (and most obvious) was the massive spike in sales of Jackson’s music, which garnered astronomical earnings (an estimated $275 million in 2010 and $170 million in 2011). Of course, his family only receives a percentage, as would be the case for any recording artist’s album or single sales.
Jackson’s estate also cut a licensing deal for his unreleased songs that will ultimately make them $200 million over seven years. Plus there’s the $60 million advance for This Is It, as well as a cut of the DVD sales, and the Cirque du Soleil licensing, and the auction… basically, the money will just keep rolling in.
There’s still that matter of the remaining $25 million dollars (pocket change), but you can see why it’s expected to be paid off by the end of the year. People can argue that the estate was trying to profit off Jackson’s death, but the fact is they were just trying to break even.