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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

New development in Redstone empire dispute

This blog has previously discussed the case of Sumner Redstone, a billionaire who owns a large share in Viacom, a major media outlet that might be familiar to residents of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Originally, Mr. Redstone's long-term companion had alleged that he was incompetent to remove her as his health care representative and expel her from his home. The companion recently lost that suit. Now, executives from Viacom are effectively suing the man who ultimately owns their company. Specifically, the executives are alleging that Mr. Redstone did not have the competence to remove two high-ranking officers at Viacom from his trust, a trust that will ultimately have the power to control Viacom's business affairs.

What the Viacom executives fear, according to the report, is that Mr. Redstone's daughter is ultimately behind this decision, a move that many did not expect. These sorts of changes could also signal profound changes in the operation of Viacom itself.

As with his previous cases, and like in Minnesota, the officers accusing Mr. Redstone of incompetence must prove that he was not medically able to make a decision to remove the directors. What complicates this is that one of the officers recently testified in the prior case involving Mr. Redstone that Mr. Redstone was thinking coherently. The claim is that Mr. Redstone's health continues to deteriorate.

As this case illustrates, issues of trust administration in Minnesota can be complicated and even crop up again and again in several different contexts, even before the person who created the trust passes away. The help an experienced probate attorney is often needed to resolve these types of issues.

Source: The New York Times, "Redstone and Viacom executives go to court against each other," Emily Steel, May 23, 2016.

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