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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

NFL owner's records to be sealed in ongoing inheritance dispute

Because it is story that has attracted national attention in the world of sports and was even reported on this blog a few weeks ago, many residents of Saint Paul, Minnesota, may be aware of the ongoing dispute between an NFL owner in another state and some of his family members.

Although not a probate dispute strictly speaking, this ongoing story illustrates what options a disinherited heir may have in the event that that person feels as if the person is being treated unfairly.

As readers of this blog probably know, this dispute started when the NFL owner announced that he was leaving his businesses, worth billions, to his current wife. He also indicated that he would no longer allow his daughter or grandchildren to have any role in the operations of the business.

The latest chapter in this story is that the daughter and grandchildren compelled the owner to undergo an exam to determine whether he was mentally competent to make such decisions. Although the next court hearing on this issue will be early next month, the story made headlines again recently when the judge ordered this case sealed. This means that from this point forward, the public will not be able to examine documents filed in connection with this case at all, including the owner's mental health evaluation.

Although no one would relish the thought of forcing the person's own relative to undergo a psychological evaluation, sometimes doing so may be the best way of protecting an estate before a loved one dies. It may be much easier to protect an estate from a person who would take advantage of a wealthy but aging friend or relative sooner rather than later.

Source: The New Orleans Advocate, "Filings in lawsuit on Tom Benson's mental health will be withheld from public," Ramon Antonio Vargas, April 26, 2015

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