Those who have ever dealt with estate issues know that when someone has a legal ground for contesting a will, the process for settling the estate often drags on as the case goes through the court process. Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks' estate is in the middle of a contested will battle. While this case isn't in Florida, it is a good reminder that valid estate plans are vital. Additionally, full disclosure as the case makes its way through the probate process is also vital.
In the Banks' case, a will filed with the court after Banks died in January shows that the baseball great left all of his assets to his caregiver. That will is being contested by his estranged wife. In March, the court found that the will was valid. In response to that, the Banks family is claiming that the man was coerced into making the will.
When the caregiver filed a list of assets for the estate in March, she noted that Banks had no insurance policies or big bank accounts. She said that his assets were estimated at $16,000. The list included a Lexus, a Hall of Fame ring, autographed baseballs from President Clinton and Hillary Clinton, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. It has since come to light that the man also had a joint bank account with the caregiver and a trust fund.
Banks' wife claims that all of the assets, including the joint bank account and the trust fund, are part of the man's estate. The caregiver's attorney says that the trust fund and bank account aren't part of the estate.
As you can see, a solid estate plan is important for all estates. Letting family members know about your plans for your estate might help to prevent issues like the ones the Banks' estate is going through now.
Source: WGN, “Ernie Banks' estate may be larger than first reported,” Associated Press and Julian Crews, April. 29, 2015