The ongoing skirmish over the small estate of baseball legend Ernie Banks has gone into extra innings. There was a battle between Banks’ estranged wife and the caretaker who was named as sole heir to the estate. Most recently, a third party has claimed a portion of the modest estate.
Banks' friend, Shirley Marx, has entered a claim against the estate for $80,000. Marx claims this is the amount she loaned to Banks while he worked for her family's moving company. However, the loans were not documented, which will make it difficult for Marx to prove her claims.
The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog reported on this in "Estate of Ernie Banks Faces New Challenge As Creditor Steps Forward."
The problem? If Banks was so cash-strapped that he had to borrow $80,000 from a friend, then his estate is unlikely to have enough assets to cover the costs of all of this litigation and still have assets left over to distribute to whoever the eventual winner of these battles turns out to be.
This is a common problem with estates that seem just large enough to fight over. By the time the fighting is over, the only people left with anything are the attorneys.
That does not mean that you should not hire an attorney or not fight over an estate against which you have a legitimate claim. On the other hand, it does mean that when fighting over an estate, you need to be mindful of the attorney's fees the estate is paying.
In the end, an estate planning attorney can help you make a more informed decision about when it is best to settle the case instead of continuing to fight over an ever-dwindling sum.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (August 29, 2015) "Estate of Ernie Banks Faces New Challenge As Creditor Steps Forward."