By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
May 10, 2018
Saints Owner Tom Benson Excludes Daughter and Grandkids from Will – But Here’s Why They Still Made Out Well…
Hearing that someone excluded their own children and grandchildren from their will is always surprising. But sometimes it doesn’t tell the whole story.
When Saints Owner Tom Benson passed away, it made news that he specifically excluded his daughter and grandchildren from running his business empire.
But when you dig a little deeper, you’ll learn that they had received millions’ worth of property from him already before he passed away. During his lifetime, they received control of three car dealerships, bank branches, a hunting ranch, a private plane, a home on Lake Tahoe, and a $1.3 million Old Metairie home. Some of the property was acquired after a two-year court battle with Benson in 2015.
So, will the family challenge the validity of Benson’s will? We will have to wait and see. In Louisiana, you have five years to do so.
But in this case, it may prove to be an uphill battle. Typical allegations for challenging a will are that the deceased was mentally incapacitated or subject to undue influence. According to the attorney who helped Benson to prepare the will, it was created shortly after a New Orleans judge found Benson was mentally fit enough to handle his own affairs.
What We Can Learn from the Benson Family’s Story
There are lessons to be learned from this situation that you can apply to your own estate planning.
Don’t let your loved ones be surprised.
Dealing with a loved one’s passing is a stressful time, and it can be made more upsetting when you’re confronted with something expected in the will. Sometimes it can stir up existing family turmoil or even create it where none existed before.
You may have your reasons for why you included or excluded someone in your will, who you assigned to certain roles, and how you divvied up your assets. But you won’t be around to explain them.
It is possible Tom Benson considered the property he already gave his daughter and her grandkids when creating his will, but if he didn’t take the time to share that, they don’t know that.
Take the time to explain yourself now, even if you risk encountering hurt feelings. You don’t have to discuss specifics, just take the time to share the reasoning behind your decisions. It can save your family a lot of time, stress, and cost.
Make sure you follow appropriate procedures to create your will.
If your family is upset about your last will and testament, they may contest the will in order to change it.
In Florida, you have 90 days to contest a will after you receive the Notice of Administration from the Personal Representative. You only have 20 days if you received that Formal Notice before the will has been admitted to probate.
In the case of Tom Benson, the lawyers feel confident that his will would hold up in court if challenged. The judge’s ruling of his mental fitness plays an important role in this, but it’s also because Benson worked with a lawyer to create the document. This helps to ensure that you follow all the processes and procedures required for the will to be valid.
Get Help with Your Estate Planning
Are you concerned about how your family will react to your estate planning? At Haimo Law, we have experience helping our clients navigate these troubled waters. We can guide you through the process of communicating with your loved ones and work to ensure your estate planning is as “bullet-proof” as possible, so you can feel confident that your wishes will be carried out as you wanted.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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