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Ernie Banks Estate, Part 10: Settlement Talks and More

Jeffrey Gottlieb

This is the ninth installment in my series on various legal aspects of the Estate of Ernie Banks. You can read my first nine pieces here.

I’m back! It’s been a couple months since my last blog post and over six months since my last update on the Banks Estate. Much of my free time was spent preparing for and co-presenting — The Ernie Banks Estate: Lessons For Estate Planners” — at the 59th Annual IICLE Estate Planning Short Course in Champaign on May 18 and Chicago on May 26. It was a lot of fun presenting for IICLE and meeting so many great estate planning attorneys around the state. A short video clip from my presentation is embedded at the end of the post. More on that later…

Banks Estate Update

In my last installment back in December I discussed the Estate’s Answer to Elizabeth’s Complaint and explained that the discovery process would follow. In the past six months, the parties have been engaged in the private discovery process — exchanging documents and information, answering interrogatories and perhaps taking depositions. From the public court records, we know the following developments:

  1. Marketing Publicity Rights — In January, Regina Rice petitioned the court and was granted permission to engage an outside firm — CMG Worldwide — to manage and market Ernie Banks’ name and likeness. I discussed these “Rights of Publicity” extensively last June. To date, I have yet to see evidence of new marketing, but the legal authority has been granted.
  2. Settlement Talks Re-Started — Last September, the parties held an unsuccessful pre-trial settlement conference with the probate judge (I talked about that here). Elizabeth and Regina were at an impasse. But sometimes time and expense change perspective. More recently, beginning in April if not earlier, Elizabeth and Regina willingly re-engaged in serious settlement talks. At the last hearing on June 14, they requested a conference with the probate judge to “help work out the kinks” in a possible settlement agreement. That conference is scheduled for July 6.
  3. Memorabilia Auction Planned — Also on June 14, Regina requested approval to auction some of Ernie’s memorabilia in August. The probate judge gave tentative approval to the plan, unless challenged by Elizabeth (Chicago Tribune article).

IICLE Estate Planning Short Course Presentation

During my presentation I touched on a variety of topics that I had previewed here — citations, spouse’s awards, claims, rights of publicity and disposition of remains.

I also did a short section devoted to a discussion of the new Illinois Presumptively Void Transfers to Caregivers statute. Regular blog readers may recall that I first discussed this here in September 2014 and then in more depth in an article published in the January 2015 Illinois Bar Journal.

The new statute could not be applied to the Banks Estate (because it applies only to wills & trusts signed on or after 1/1/15), but the Banks Estate provided a useful springboard to discuss how a case like this might proceed very differently under the new law and how that is important for Illinois estate planners.

To learn more, I suggest first reading my Illinois Bar Journal article and then watching the clip below (recorded by IICLE in Champaign) that I posted to YouTube.

Note: for some unknown reason, the video for nearly the first three minutes of this clip apparently did not record (it says “media pending”), but the audio is recorded in full. The video kicks in at 02:51 in the clip.