Ernie Banks’ Family Contests His Will Following Dementia Death

He was the rare sports start to transcend athleticism and become a cultural legend. Ernie Banks, known to millions as “Mr. Sunshine,” spent decades as a star player for the Chicago Cubs. He emerged as an influential figure for race relations in the U.S. and eventually earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

Banks passed away in early 2015 after a long battle with dementia. He was 83. But what happened after that came as a surprise to his fans and loved ones alike.

According to CNN, the Banks family was shocked to learn this spring that his entire estate had recently been handed over to Regina Rice, a non-family member who had served as Banks’ agent for some time.

As it turns out, Banks made those changes in a new estate plan, executed just months before his death. The family reports that the new will, which they didn’t discover until after his passing, leaves almost everything to Ms. Rice. That stands in contrast to what they understood Banks’ intentions to be.

Now, the family is formally challenging that will, arguing that Rice took advantage of Banks’ illness and coerced him to create a will benefitting her own financial interests. Rice, meanwhile, adamantly insists that the will reflects Banks’ true intent.

So who will win in the end? It’s an interesting case. If the family can prove undue influence, or if they can persuade a court that Banks wasn’t of sound mind when the most recent will was made, then they stand a chance of reverting to the terms of an earlier will.

The fact that Banks suffered from serious dementia is one big factor weighing in the family’s favor. But it’s not a guarantee of victory. The court will have to consider all of the available facts and testimony in order to determine whether Banks was still thinking for himself when he transferred interest and control to Rice.

These kinds of cases are very common, and an experienced lawyer can make all the difference. At Kamper, Estrada & Simmons, LLP, we understand how awful it feels to suspect that your loved one might have been exploited. If your family is facing that issue now, we can help. We have years of experience in handling cases much like Banks’.

Whether you’re seeking to challenge or defend a Last Will and Testament, the experienced Phoenix estate law attorneys in our firm can help. Call us today.

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