Judge: Ernie Banks' will giving estate to caretaker is valid
CHICAGO (AP) The will signed by Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks giving all of his assets to his caretaker is valid, a Cook County judge determined Tuesday.
Judge James Riley confirmed the will after hearing testimony from two paralegals for the law firm that executed it. The two said they witnessed the five-page document be signed Oct. 17. It was notarized by the law office of Byron Faermark and signed by the paralegals.
The witnesses testified that Banks stated during the signing he was not going to leave money to his family. The witnesses also testified Banks' longtime caretaker, Regina Rice, was present.
Banks' family maintains Rice coerced him into handing over his assets. Banks, 83, died Jan. 23 of a heart attack.
Control of his estate was initially awarded to his wife after she claimed Banks died without a will. But Rice, 56, filed a petition days later disclosing a will existed and identified herself as his longtime caretaker and confidant.
The witnesses told the judge Banks seemed healthy and was not being coerced at the time he signed the will.
After the hearing, attorneys for wife Liz Banks described the judge's ruling as merely procedural and said they'd fight on.
''We're going to see where the evidence goes,'' attorney Tom Jefson said.
Attorneys for Liz Banks have also subpoenaed the Hall of Famer's longtime doctor for records relating to his care, including psychiatric evaluations and any treatments for drug or alcohol abuse.
Last month, after Rice's attorney said a preliminary estimate showed Ernie Banks had assets worth just $16,000, a probate judge gave Rice 30 days to provide a full accounting of the estate.