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The estate of Ernie Banks being disputed by family

As some Pennsylvania baseball fans may remember, Ernie Banks was known for his prowess with the Chicago Cubs. After a lifetime of helping others through charity work, Banks died at 83 in January. His estate is embroiled in a disagreement over changes Banks made to it three months prior to his death.

Reasons the estate plan is being questioned include a death certificate stating that dementia was a contributing factor toward Banks' death from heart disease. Also at issue is Banks' move to exclude his three children and his wife whom he was divorcing. Instead, he left his entire estate to his agent and caregiver. In this case, both his assets and use of his name are included.

His wife and children are about to challenge the will, according to their attorney. At issue is whether his caretaker was able to exert excessive influence over the former baseball player. According to the family, they were unable to speak to Banks during the period preceding his death due to her intercession. Banks, according to sources, wanted his ashes scattered over Wrigley Field. This was confirmed in interviews he gave prior to his death. Since he and his wife were not divorced when he died, she was able to stop that by a court petition and had him buried instead.

While Banks is a well-known figure, this is not uncommon. Families contest changes to an estate plan when the capacity of the decedent may be questioned or if the plan is drastically changed and the estate is left to a caregiver such as in this case.

Preparing a viable estate plan with clear presence of mind, which may be documented by medical authorities, may preclude this problem. An attorney may help by structuring documents as to avoid questions after the benefactor dies.

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