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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Perfect storm brewing for legal dispute over Ali's estate?

As most residents of Saint Paul, Minnesota, who pay any attention to sporting news know, the heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali, thought to be the greatest fighter ever by many, passed away recently. While the champion will of course not enter the boxing ring again, his absence won't necessarily prevent his relatives from fighting a court battle over the man's estate.

All the ingredients for probate litigation seem to be present in the case of Ali's estate. For one, his estate is going to be worth a lot of money. At least $50 million is at stake, and, as has happened with other celebrities who pass away, the value of Ali's fortune and even his name could skyrocket now that he has died.

Another issue is that Ali has nine children, only one of whom was a child of his most recent marriage. Aside from his surviving spouse, Ali has also had three other marriages. People suspect that other people may come forward claiming that they are Ali's children and thus entitled to a share of his estate.

Although it does appear that the champ left a detailed estate plan in place, another factor that could contribute to probate litigation is that the world knew he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Because Parkinson's can affect a person's mental abilities, his diagnosis could give credence to a claim that he, at some points in his life, was not competent to handle estate planning.

While nothing formal has been filed in court yet, some people have already reported the warning signs of an estate fight brewing under the surface. For instance, the boxer's only son, who has been impoverished, has always claimed that Ali's surviving spouse interfered with the relationship between his father and him.

Even if the death of a Minnesota resident does not attract as much attention as the death of Muhammad Ali, some of the same factors can still be present following the death. In such cases, it might be wise for concerned family members to consult with experienced probate litigation attorneys, even if it is only to get advice on how to prevent issues from turning in to litigation.

Source: Forbes, "Battles coming for Muhammad Ali estate, but is should emerge victorious," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, June 19, 2016

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