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Billionaire faces a court battle over mental competency

Nevada residents who are interested in the estate planning process may wish to know about one billionaire's legal battle to prove he is mentally competent. Given the circumstances, this kind of situation is relatively common in mixed families.

Tom Benson, the billionaire owner of the New Orleans Saints and the city's NBA franchise, is involved in a legal scuffle over his competence to make financial decisions. Benson, now 87 years old, also owns various other business ventures, including banks, car dealerships and real estate. However, some of his heirs are seeking to have him declared by a court to be legally incompetent. They say that this is to protect him from those in his life who would unduly influence his decision-making.

The dispute stems from Benson's decision to lock his three children out of control of the two sports teams by leaving a controlling number of shares to his current wife instead of the children. There is also a considerable amount of assets in their late mother's trust, which Benson manages, as well as irrevocable trusts for each of the children individually. The children are concerned that Benson's current wife is exerting undue influence on their father and that Benson is mismanaging trust assets, which include millions of dollars in property and business interests.

One expert points out that many families encounter similar issues when it comes to passing on an estate when there is a stepparent involved. When changes in the family makeup lead to a large will or trust planning change, this can cause disagreement within the family. An attorney may be able to assist in these situations, whether it involves negotiating between the parties or in contesting the terms of the particular document.

Source: Forbes Magazine, "Feud Over Saints Owner Tom Benson Is More Common Than You May Think", Danielle Mayoras and Andy Mayoras, March 11, 2015

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