Sunday, May 31, 2015

Banks' estranged wife says caretaker has yet to provide key financial info

A lawyer for the estranged wife of late Cubs great Ernie Banks told a probate judge Wednesday that Banks' longtime caregiver has failed to turn over key financial information in the ongoing legal wrangling over his estate.

The development comes as Banks' fourth wife, Elizabeth Ellzey Banks, is challenging a will signed by the slugger in October that left all his assets to his friend and caregiver, Regina Rice.

At a status hearing in a Daley Center courtroom, Thomas Jefson, an attorney for Banks' wife, told Cook County Judge James Riley that Rice hasn't fully responded to a court-ordered citation to discover all assets in Banks' estate.

The missing information includes a joint bank account that Rice had with Banks when he was alive as well as a trust account set up in the slugger's contested will, Jefson said. He said they also want information about "certain signed items" of Banks' that were recently sold through a website that Rice controls.

"We want receipts," Jefson said.

Rice's attorney, Linda Chatman, said she doesn't believe the bank accounts are part of the estate. The judge gave both sides more time to try to work it out between themselves, but if the impasse continues, he could issue an order compelling Rice to turn over the financial records.

The ongoing discovery process playing out behind the scenes comes as Rice filed her first inventory of Banks' personal property with the court. The inventory, disclosed publicly, contained no big bank accounts, insurance policies or real estate. Instead it consisted mostly of items from Banks' rented Trump Tower condominium as well as storage containers in Chicago and California.

The list included Banks' original Negro League contract from 1950, his Hall of Fame ring and autographed baseballs from Bill and Hillary Clinton. Other big-ticket items included a Rolex watch, the ring commemorating Banks' induction into the Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Barack Obama in 2013.

The items found in the storage containers were decidedly more mundane. Two storage crates in Chicago included boxes of photos, used clothing, a chrome plant stand and an Ernie Banks bobblehead, according to the filing. The California storage containers held golf clubs, an old chair, a Michael Jordan jersey, pots and pans, vacuum parts and a "badly worn" garment bag, among other items.

On Wednesday, Riley granted a request from Chatman that Rice be allowed to sell Banks' 2007 Lexus. The proceeds will go to the estate, as will any money derived from the liquidation of Banks' memorabilia and other property.

Meanwhile, lawyers who represented Banks in the divorce proceedings — which were ongoing at the time of his death — have filed claims with the estate to collect legal fees. Last week, attorney Jeffery Leving, who was retained by Banks in May 2012, filed a bill for $27,550 for work his firm did. That's on top of a $27,400 bill previously submitted by the firm Grund & Leavitt, which took over the case in November 2013, court records show.

Even the attorney for Banks' wife, Barry Greenburg, has asked to be paid from the estate, claiming in a recent filing that Elizabeth Banks depended on her husband for income. Greenburg's bill comes to $11,950, records show.

The battle over Banks' posthumous wishes began soon after he died Jan. 23 at 83. Control over Banks' estate had initially been awarded to his wife, who had gone to probate court Jan. 28 claiming that Banks had died without a will. In such cases, an immediate family member is typically named the executor.But days later, Rice, 56, who described herself as a caretaker and "trusted confidant" to Banks, filed a petition disclosing the existence of a will signed Oct. 28 at an attorney's office in Lombard. The document directed that all assets be given to a trust controlled by Rice and stated that Banks was "making no provisions" for his wife and children, "not for a lack of love and affection for them and for reasons best known by them."

Rice, through her talent management company Ricer Enterprises, had organized numerous publicity events featuring Banks in recent years and runs the website, which advertises autographed baseball bats, gloves and other merchandise for up to $400.

In a statement Rice issued in February, she said Banks had been part of her life for 12 years and that the record will "dispel any iota of concern regarding my relationship with Ernie and his trust in me to carry out his wishes" in his lifetime and after his death.

Banks' family, including his twin sons from a previous marriage, have alleged that Rice took advantage of Banks' weakened physical state and got him to sign all his assets over to her. But last month, Riley confirmed the will after two witnesses from the law office testified that Banks appeared to be of "sound mind" when he signed the document.

Full Article & Source:
Banks' estranged wife says caretaker has yet to provide key financial info


StandUp said...

It is going to be interesting to know how this turns out. It could go either way.

Tom said...

I can see that it would be easy for a caregiver to end up with it all in payment for all their hard work and etc. The thing to determine is if the caregiver took the job so she would end up with everything.