Tom Benson, who owns several sports teams including the NFL's Saints, has reportedly agreed to a settlement in a case that involved the Saints, the Pelicans and some of Benson's heirs. The lawsuit has been in the news on and off for a few years, and it's brought up a number of interesting estate questions.
The details of the settlement are confidential, but whatever agreement the parties have come to appears to have stopped a trial that was scheduled to begin in early February. The lawsuit stemmed originally from Benson's move to swap out assets in a trust that was created for his ex-wife and her children. Benson wanted to remove ownership stakes for the Saints and Pelicans from the trust.
Trustees for the trust blocked the asset move, claiming that Benson wasn't planning to swap in assets of equal value. The litigation is one of several that occurred between Benson and his heirs the past few years. At one point, the heirs appeared to question whether Benson was fit to make such decisions about his estate and businesses. They also seemed to be pitted against Benson's current wife, who has an active role in team affairs.
In a letter from Benson to his heirs, he complains that his heirs became difficult after he wed his current wife. He said that the tension resulted in family problems and that he didn't want to put up with such issues at his age.
While you likely don't own a major professional sports team, family matters are something everyone can relate to. Creating trusts is one way that you can help ensure your family and heirs are taken care of in a way that resonates with your wishes, but this story also illustrates that one solution doesn't necessarily solve all problems. Working with an experienced estate lawyer is one way to help ensure your solution is strong.
Source: NOLA.com, "Tom Benson settles lawsuit with heirs over Saints, Pelicans ownership," Greg LaRose, Feb. 03, 2017