I just concluded reading the Chicago Tribune Article by Annie Sweeney concerning March 30, 2015’s hearing in Cook County, Illinois regarding the validity of Ernie Banks’ Will.
For those that do not know who he was – almost impossible for someone who lived in Chicago in the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s – he was given the nickname “Mr. Cub.” He is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and is credited with saying “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame . . . Let’s play two!”
The judge found that the Will was valid based upon testimony of two paralegals who were employees of the law firm that prepared the Will who observed Mr. Banks signing the Will. As one would think, the witnesses testified to Mr. Banks’ competence.
In the Will, Banks did not leave anything to his family. Rather, it left everything to a woman, Regina Rice, who has been described as his caregiver, but also has a talent management company, Ricer Enterprises.
The paralegals testified that Rice had been with Banks when he arrived to sign his Will. They further testified that he indicated orally that he was not leaving anything to his family.
I am not admitted to practice law in Illinois so I am not aware of the probate process in that state or that state’s laws as it relates to the issues before the court.
The article I read indicates that the judge stated “Will confirmed” which ended the hearing. The article does not indicate that the attorneys’ for Banks’ family put on any testimony concerning Banks’ medical condition. The article indicates that Banks’ wife’s attorneys have subpoenaed Banks’ doctor for any records relating to his care. Obviously, if Banks were not “competent” then he could not enter into a Will.
The other issue, which depending on Illinois law may be hard to prove, is “undue influence.” In California, if Rice were considered a caregiver of Mr. Banks’ she would find herself having to deal with this question. California even has a statute on the subject.
The attorneys’ for Banks’ wife said they are going to continue to investigate while downplaying Tuesday’s hearing. Therefore, it is possible this is not the end of the story.
Estate Planning and Probate Attorney, Manhattan Beach Local, Sports Enthusiast