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Sterlings to fight over estate administration & probate

A probate trial is slated to begin in the case of the two Sterlings -- the owners of the Los Angeles Clippers team -- after it was determined that Donald Sterling's mental capacity is acute enough to continue with the proceeding. Like many New York residents, the couple is having difficulty settling issues related to estate administration & probate, such as the execution of a trust. In this instance, the court must determine whether it was appropriate for the woman, Shelly, to sell the team after Donald chose to revoke his trust agreement.

Official reports show that the court must decide whether the woman properly complied with the Sterling Family Trust when she had her husband removed as a co-trustee. If not, then she could be accused of defrauding him, as he could have also been victimized by the two physicians who found him mentally incapable of making major decisions.

This situation is certainly complicated, involving a revoked trust, which brings up s a number of legal issues. Further complicating the matter is the fact that the revocation of the trust led to a $2 billion sales contract for the sale of the team. Now, both members of the couple are fighting for their own financial issues, even as the wife attempts to discredit her husband by characterizing him as mentally feeble.

This case demonstrates the fact that probate issues can actually arise before the death of the benefactor. This estate administration quandary occurred because of a trust revocation while the benefactor is still alive. Those who choose revocable trusts as elements of their estate administration plan should know the risks and benefits of using this specific type of estate planning tool.

Source: USA Today, "Sterling trial set for Monday, Donald's competency no issue," June 30, 2014

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Weinstein & Randisi
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