The Battle Over Control of Ernie Banks’ Estate

Peck Ritchey, LLC Managing Partner Kerry R. Peck recently appeared on FOX 32 News regarding the hotly contested Ernie Banks will contest case.

The Chicago Cubs’ most valuable player’s family is feuding with his “trusted confidant,” a 56-year old lounge singer, Regina Rice, who inherits his entire estate. According to Court records, Ernie Banks signed estate planning documents in October 2014 and died in January 2015.

“As the case moves forward it will be interesting to see if Mr. Cub had the mental capacity to sign his will and trust, or if he was unduly influenced,” said Peck.

Ernie Banks’ children and his estranged fourth wife live in California. Probate court records from Jan. 28 indicate Bank’s estranged wife, Liz Banks, was originally awarded control over the estate, claiming Banks had died without a will.  Shortly thereafter, Rice filed a petition disclosing the existence of a will.

Will contests and estate battles don’t only happen to celebrities. Anyone who doesn’t do their due diligence in properly executing their estate planning documents (will, trust, powers of attorney, etc.) and informing their family could face a similar situation in probate court. To learn more about how to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are met contact one of Peck Ritchey, LLC’s estate planning attorneys at 312-201-0900.

Kerry Peck concentrates his practice in Trust and Estate Litigation, Estate Planning, Administration, Guardianship and Fiduciary Litigation, and Special Needs and Alzheimer’s Disease Planning. Peck is a past President of the 22,000-lawyer Chicago Bar Association. He was retained by the City of Chicago Department of Aging to rewrite the State of Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act. He co-wrote the book  Alzheimer’s and the Law, published by the American Bar Association, and is a frequent speaker at continuing education seminars for attorneys and healthcare professionals across the country.

Steve Ballmer now owns LA Clippers

Following weeks of legal strife between former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his extranged wife, former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer is now the official owner of the team after a California court approved the $2 billion sale of the basketball franchise on Tuesday, August 12.

In June, Shelly Sterling asked a probate court to allow her to single-handedly sell the team in behalf of the Sterling Family Trust after ousting her husband as a co-trustee on grounds of mental incapacitation from Alzheimer’s.

As part of the deal, Shelly Sterling will receive two courtside seats for each Clippers game at the Staples Center, six parking spaces, three champion rings following any Clippers’ NBA championship, and the titles Clippers’ No. 1 Fan and owner emeritus.

Reaching your desired outcome during probate litigation is extremely important in safeguarding your interests and your future. If you or someone you know is facing probate issues in Chicago, our team of probate attorneys at Peck Ritchey, LLC, may be of great help. Call our offices at 855-328-5787 today.

Mickey Rooney’s final resting place will be at the Hollywood Forever cemetery

An arrangement between Mickey Rooney’s ex and the executor of his will has prevented a legal dispute over the actor’s remains, according to a report by CNN on Friday, April 11.

The agreement between the actor’s estranged wife, Jan Rooney, and the executor of his will, Michael Augustine, determined Rooney’s final resting place to be at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. The agreement also bars Chris Aber, the actor’s estranged stepson, from attending the service.

Mickey Rooney’s estate totaled at just $18,000, all of which will be left to his stepson Mark Rooney.

If you are facing matters involving interpretation of a will, or are planning to seek legal help in administering trusts and guardianships in Chicago, a lawyer from Peck Ritchey, LLC, might be able to help you. Call us at (855) 328-5787 for a free, no-obligations assessment of your situation.

New York Times Exposes Probate Issues

While browsing the New York Times yesterday, I came upon the article entitled, “Avoiding Probate Can Pose Risks of Its Own.” On the heels of President Obama’s new tax laws, the Times reporter addresses the planning techniques people can use to avoid probate.

But, as the Times points out, without the proper knowledge people can get a false sense of security from wills and trusts. This is because non-probated items, which are not distributed through these documents, (retirement accounts, joint bank accounts, life insurance…) can cause  issues of their own. Forgetting to coordinate your estate plan with these other accounts can throw off all your intentions.


  1. Joint Bank Accounts: Even if you have distributed your estate in your will, if during your life you put a caregiver or loved one on a joint bank account, they will receive the money in the account upon your death – not who you listed in your will.
  2. Expenses: Did you address who is responsible for paying the various expenses that will arise such as estate taxes and the funeral bill? (Is there enough money in the estate?)
  3. Real Estate: Similar to joint bank accounts, if there is another name on the deed when you pass, that person will inherit the property, not the heirs.
  4. Life Insurance/Retirement Accounts: Make sure the beneficiary on your forms matches your will.

These are just some of the issues that could cause complications with your estate plan. To ensure your estate is distributed properly and your wishes are followed, hire an experienced Chicago probate attorney to draft and help execute your documents.

***To view the complete New York Times article, click here.

Jacobs, Deborah. “Avoiding Probate Can Pose Risks of Its Own” New York Times, Wealth Section, February 9, 2011.

Chicago Probate Attorneys Can Prevent Family Inheritance Feuds

There’s never a good time for family disputes, but after the death of a loved is certainly one of the worst times. Many families find the probate period extremely stressful, particularly when there is a disagreement over the terms of a will. Family members may be contesting the will because they feel they’ve been treated unfairly or because they honestly believe the estate isn’t being handled properly. Regardless of the reasons, a family feud can quickly escalate. If you’re handling an estate in Illinois, hiring Chicago probate attorneys to handle the estate is the best option when things get heated.

Are The Claims Real?

Chicago probate attorneys often see cases in which one child or grandchild threatens to contest a will immediately after it is read to the heirs. Often times this is simply a knee-jerk reaction based on their disappointment and the sorrow of losing someone they cared about or a feeling that the  estate was distributed unfairly and they deserve more. In these situations, Chicago probate attorneys may not be needed, although a consultation with an attorney is always a good idea.

How Much Is Being Disputed?

The larger the estate, the more often Chicago probate attorneys are needed. It’s simply human nature. Greed increases in proportion to the size of the inheritance, and many families who have gotten along fine for years will suddenly turn against each other if a significant amount of money or property is at stake. Individuals are more likely to put serious effort into contesting a will if they feel that they could end up with a significant amount of cash.

Who Is Handling The Probate Process?

If you are  designated as the executor of the will, you will be responsible for monitoring the division of assets. This is a difficult and sensitive situation and you may feel a bit overwhelmed. Hiring Chicago probate attorneys to walk you through the process is one way to protect yourself and see that the probate process is handled properly.

Chicago probate attorneys can advise you on proper legal procedures and make sure that all legal deadlines are met. Handling the probate process is an important responsibility, and you can be subject to legal consequences if you don’t handle the estate correctly. If there are any questions at all about the terms of the will, hiring Chicago probate attorneys will protect you as well as the estate. The cost of hiring probate attorneys is minimal compared to the peace of mind you’ll have knowing you have qualified legal representation.

Some disputes seem inconsequential at first, causing executors to delay in hiring probate attorneys. Unfortunately, even seemingly small disagreements can quickly escalate after the death of a loved one. Hiring probate attorneys before the situation becomes too difficult is the best course of action for everyone involved.

If you are administering the estate and have never handled a probate matter before, hiring probate attorneys can come as quite a relief. You won’t have to worry that you’ve missed a deadline or whether you’ve filed anything incorrectly. Of course, if you’ve already filed paperwork improperly or made other errors before you hire probate attorneys, the cost and time involved in settling the estate will increase. For this reason, it’s best to hire probate attorneys early on.

Hire Chicago Probate Attorneys If You Aren’t Confident Every Step Of The Way

It’s tempting to tell yourself that you can handle the estate, but even minor details can cause significant headaches during the probate process. You’re taking a risk every step of the way if you aren’t familiar with the legal process or there are questions about the will. Good Chicago probate attorneys will clarify each step in the process and smooth the way for you in court. If the will is contested in court, you’ll have the advantage of working with attorneys who are familiar with the estate and the court system.  Chicago probate court can be intimidating; having legal counsel you’re comfortable working with is important.

The death of someone you love is always stressful. You can reduce your stress level and avoid unpleasant complications by hiring probate attorneys at the beginning of the probate process.