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Dispute over baseball great's body may foretell future litigation

Many Minnesotans may remember legendary major league baseball player Ernie Banks, who died recently. Unfortunately for Banks' grieving family, however, it appears that a serious probate dispute may be rearing its ugly head.

The widow of Ernie Banks recently filed a request in court to bar another lady, who claims to be a friend of Banks and the true executor of his estate, from exhuming Banks's body and cremating it. The star reportedly wanted to have his ashes scattered, but there was no formal documentation to that effect. The baseball star's remains are currently in a cemetery near where he used to play baseball.

Interestingly, Ernie Banks had requested a divorce from his now widow before his death, but apparently that divorce was never finalized. Court records list both the widow and Banks's "friend" as contact persons in the underlying probate case.

Who ultimately gets to make the call both on how Banks's remains will be handled and how his estate will be administered depends heavily on the content and validity of an October 2014 will purportedly signed by Banks. That document provides that Banks wanted his friend, not his wife, to be his personal representative. The widow has hinted that she does not believe that the document is a valid will.

Right now, the dispute is whether to cremate Ernie Banks. However, there seem to be indications that a full-blown will contest may follow. Particularly when emotions are high or when there is a lot at stake, probate litigation can erupt quickly and can prove quite time-consuming and stressful. The skills of an experienced probate litigation attorney may prove helpful in such a situation.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Court fight erupts over Ernie Banks' remains," Feb. 13, 2015.

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