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Could Feud Over Saints Owner Tom Benson Happen In Your Family?

Yes, Tom Benson has a great deal more money and power than most of us.  How much?  Try $1.9 billion, according to the annual Forbes rankings.  Indeed, there are only 350 richer people in the whole country.  The successful owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, Benson built a wide-ranging empire of car dealerships, banks, various real estate holdings, and a television station.  He still actively participates in running his businesses — most of all his beloved Saints.  Tom-Benson-Saints-300x203

But for all of his wealth, prestige, and status, Tom Benson is in the midst of the same type of probate-related court battle that entangles many elderly individuals in our country.  Some of Benson’s heirs do not believe the 87-year-old is mentally competent to make his own decisions any more.  They are seeking to have him declared legally incompetent and protect him from what they claim is undue influence.

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Should Caregiver of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, Inherit His Fortune?

Widely beloved throughout the world of baseball, especially in Chicago, Ernie Banks -- a/k/a Mr. Cub -- rose from humble beginnings.  He began his career earning seven dollars a day in the Negro Leagues, before crossing the color barrier and becoming the Chicago Cubs’ most popular player ever.  Ernie Banks

After his playing career, Banks has been widely respected as a positive role model in baseball and beyond.  He continued to break new ground, becoming the first African-American Ford Motor Company dealer ever and being actively involved in charity work throughout his life after baseball.  In 2013, President Obama awarded Banks the National Congressional Medal of Honor.

Ernie Banks died on January 23rd at age 83 from a heart condition.  Interestingly, his death certificate listed dementia as a "significant condition contributing" to his death.  Why is this important?

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Wife of Donald Sterling Used Family Trust To Cut Him Out

It seems that everyone wanted Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team, after his racist remarks about Magic Johnson and African Americans became public knowledge.  The NBA Commissioner, owners, players, Clipper fans, and Sterling’s own family did everything in their power to force him out.  Last week, the news broke that Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, reportedly accomplished what everyone wanted — an agreement has been reached for the Clippers to be sold for a reported $2 billion dollars to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.  Sterling

But how did Shelly manage to do this without going to court — which would undoubtedly air Sterling family dirty laundry that no one in the Sterling family or the NBA would want to see made public?

Reportedly, Shelly Sterling relied on a fairly standard provision in the Sterling family trust, which owns and controls the Sterling’s interest in the Clippers.  According to ESPN and others, Shelly and Donald were co-trustees with equal authority over their trust.  This gave them equal say in running the Clippers, including when to sell the franchise.  But, after the recent events, Shelly had her husband evaluated by doctors to determine if he was mentally competent to remain serving as one of the co-trustees.

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Bill Davidson Estate In $2 Billion War With IRS

Bill Davidson, the late owner of the Detroit Pistons, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Guardian Industries — one of the country’s largest private companies — had a reputation for being aggressive.  The Pistons aggressively built two championship teams under his watch and was inducted into the NBA’s Hall of Fame in 2008.  His businesses thrived through his management.  But the IRS now says Bill Davidson was too aggressive in his tax-reducing estate planning techniques.  Bill Davidson with Isiah Thomas

The IRS recently filed a petition in US Tax Court in Washington, D.C., claiming that Bill Davidson Estate owes up to two billion dollars in taxes.  Yes, that’s two Billion — with a capital “B”.  How could any individual rack up such a large tax bill?

Davidson, like many wealthy people who worry about estate taxes, gave away assets through gifts, trusts, and other transfers to his wife and other family members.  The IRS says that he undervalued the worth of these assets.  They feel his reported net worth of around $3 billion was really much higher — perhaps in the neighborhood of the $5.5 billion figure that Forbes reported his new worth to be in 2008.

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No Happy Mothers Day: Kobe Bryant Disputes Mother In Lawsuit

Kobe Bryant, long-time Los Angeles Laker and future Hall-of-Famer, is in a bitter feud with his own mother over ownership of memorabilia potentially worth more than one million dollars.  He’s locked in a he-said, she-said dispute about whether he gave the items to his mother or not.   Kobe_Bryant

Family members are split down the middle about who is telling the truth and who is lying. 

Kobe’s mother, Pamela Bryant, signed a Consignment Agreement with Goldin Auctions, in New Jersey.  In doing so, Pamela gave permission to sell more than 100 items from Kobe’s childhood, including his high school game-worn uniforms, NBA championship rings, and high school Varsity letters.  Goldin Auctions, a noted sports memorabilia auctioneer, advanced $450,000 to Pamela, which she used to purchase a house.

The big problem, of course, is that Kobe Bryant says he never gave the items to his mother and that he certainly never authorized the auction.  He sued the auction house in California to stop the sale, just days after the auction house sued him in New Jersey to permit the auction to go forward.

While Kobe is not suing his mother, and she has not sued him, the heart of the lawsuit boils down to a simple point — did Kobe give the items to his mother or not?  She signed a statement under oath, testifying to the fact that he said she could have the items years ago and that he no longer wanted them.

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Kim Kardashian Settles Divorce Case With Kris Humphries

Not many people -- even celebrities -- can claim a record as impressive as Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.  The marriage:  72 days.  The divorce:  536 days.  But, it's finally over.   Kim_kardashian_kris_humphries_wedding 2

And according to reports, it was Kris Humphries who caved at the last minute to settle the case, just weeks ahead of the May 6 trial date.  Per TMZ, Humphries had been demanding either an annulment based on fraud or a $7 million pay-out.

So why the change of heart for Humphries?  For one, it's seldom easy to prove a case of fraud in court.  It's easy to claim fraud, but in divorce, civil, and probate cases alike, actually finding the goods to prove fraud is not easy.  Humphries' lawyers tried, conducting many depositions and digging through extensive records.  Reportedly, they did not find enough proof that Kim Kardashian tricked Humphries into the marriage or staged it only for publicity.

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The Controversy of Arturo Gatti's Death May Never End

Arturo-GattiArturo Gatti, the former world-champion boxer, died violently while on vacation in Brazil, in 2009.  His wife, Amanda Rodrigues Gatti, was arrested for murder, only to be released after the police ruled the death a suicide.  Now, almost four years later, Brazilian authorities have re-opened the investigation and the case may soon return to court.  

It’s the latest chapter in a long line of legal struggles that started after Arturo Gatti’s death.  Gatti’s mother, brother, and the mother of his first child have always believed that Rodrigues was responsible for his death.  Gatti was found strangled by Rodrigues’ purse strap, and she reportedly was in the room with his body for ten hours without realizing he was dead.

Rodrigues has consistently maintained that Gatti committed suicide.  She points out that autopsies have been done in both Brazil and Montreal — where the couple lived — and both determined that Gatti killed himself.

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