Ernie Banks’ Family Contests Estate
Known around Chicago as Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks died in late January at the age of 83. However, unbeknownst to his wife or children, Mr. Banks signed a will a mere three months before his death that gave all of his estate to his caregiver, Regina Rice. His family is now vehemently contesting the will in Illinois probate court, claiming that Ms. Rice took advantage of Mr. Banks’ failing health and significant dementia to unduly influence him into signing a will that gave his estate to her.
Causes for Concern
Ms. Rice was the sole caregiver and talent agent for Ernie Banks during the last decade of his life. In the last will signed by him, the document states that Mr. Banks’ estranged wife and children were cut out “not for a lack of love and affection for them and for reasons best known by them.”
Ms. Rice received all of Mr. Banks’ assets, property, and publicity rights over his image and likeness in the latest estate plan. It was signed only a few weeks before a new law went into effect for Illinois that makes it easier for family members to sue when it is suspected that an elderly loved one gave most or all of their estate to a caregiver or health aide.
In addition, the Banks family has already gone to court since Mr. Banks’ death to contest the disposition of his remains. Ms. Rice had arranged for him to be cremated, something that his family said went directly against his beliefs. ““Our father never told us he wanted to be cremated and we find it very suspicious that Ms. Rice, who claimed that she was taking excellent care of our father, now wants to have him cremated,” said his son, Jerry Banks.
Contesting the Estate
Court records show that on January 28, Mrs. Banks was initially given control over Mr. Banks’ estate as the executrix. She had gone to probate court claiming that he had died without signing a will. Four days later, Ms. Rice filed a petition with the court that disclosed the existence of the will and it was the first time that anyone in the Banks’ family had heard of it.
On February 9, Mrs. Banks asked for a hearing in probate court to determine the validity of the will, including a request for the witnesses who signed the will to testify about how the document was drawn up. In addition, Mrs. Banks also requested from the court that Ms. Rice compile a list of all of Mr. Banks’ assets, from his collections of baseball-related memorabilia to bank accounts, stocks and life insurance policies taken out in Banks’ name in order to get a proper accounting of his estate.
Call a Chicago Probate Attorney
If you or someone that you know wishes to contest the validity of a will or estate in Northbrook, Evanston, Skokie, Glenview, Glencoe, or Highland Park, let the experienced probate attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. help. Call the office or contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.