The magazine says The Gloved One's estate grossed $275 million between Oct. 1, 2009 and Oct. 1, 2010.
It was, Forbes says, more than the other dozen dead stars on the list combined - and more than the combined earnings of the biggest living acts, U2 and AC/DC.
"Jackson's posthumous earnings," says Forbes, "come from his stake in the lucrative Sony/ATV catalog, the hit Sony film "This Is It," and renewed fan interest in music, videos and all things Michael Jackson."
To make this year's list, a dead celebrity needed to earn at least $5 million between Oct. 1, 2009, and Oct. 1, 2010.
The complete list, with into taken directly from Forbes:
1) Michael Jackson, $275 million
The King of Pop passed away last summer, but he's made more money over the past year than any musician, dead or alive. His $275 million total was greater than the earnings of the two most profitable living acts, U2 and AC/DC, combined. Jackson's posthumous earnings have been bolstered by shrewd negotiations by his estate, including a merchandising deal and the rights to his name and likeness for the Sony film This Is It, which grossed over a quarter of a billion dollars.
2) Elvis Presley, $60 million
The King of Rock 'n' Roll's income ballooned to $60 million, up $5 million from last year, thanks to Graceland admissions and the Elvis Presley Cirque du Soleil spectacular launched in Las Vegas earlier this year. His portfolio of more than 200 licensing and merchandise deals got a nice boost from the late star's 75th birthday celebration. Among the commemorative events: Graceland exhibits, touring tribute concerts and an Elvis-themed cruise to the Bahamas.
3) J.R.R Tolkien, $50 million
Author; Died: Sept. 2, 1973, Age: 81
The last Lord of the Rings movie hit theaters eight years ago, but Tolkien is still a hot topic in Hollywood. A two-movie adaptation of his book The Hobbit is currently in preproduction in New Zealand. All that Hollywood attention has helped move his books. According to Nielsen, Tolkien sold just shy of 500,000 copies in the last year.
4) Charles Schulz, $33 million
Died: Feb 12, 2000; Age: 77
The Peanuts brand changed ownership again this year, with Iconix purchasing the cartoon and its characters for $175 million to form Peanuts Worldwide, LLC. With the acquisition, Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates will maintain a 20% stake in the new company. The late Schulz continues to earn from his comic strip, which appears in 2,200 newspapers across 75 countries.
5) John Lennon, $17 million
It's been nearly 30 years since The Beatles' John Lennon was killed in New York City. In what would have been his 70th year, EMI has launched the "Gimme Some Truth" campaign, re-releasing much of Lennon's catalog, resulting in several Top 10 chart appearances. His estate still earns from the "Beatles Rock Band" videogame and licensing deals with the likes of Cisco and Mont Blanc.
6)Stieg Larsson, $15 million
Died: Nov. 9, 2004; Age: 50
Larsson died before The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was published, so he didn't live to see the incredible success of his series of three books, known as The Millennium Trilogy. (A fourth book has reportedly been found.) More than 40 million copies of the books have been sold in 44 languages, and Sony is producing American films based on the books. They will star Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist.
7) Dr. Seuss, $11 million
With his instantly recognizable rhyming scheme, Dr. Seuss is the best-selling children's author in history. Horton, the Grinch and his other iconic characters are now reaching audiences through iPhone apps and an attraction at Orlando's Universal Studios theme park. According to Nielsen, Seuss' titles are on pace to sell 3 million copies this year.