Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks died in late January, at the age of 83. But a few months before he passed away, reports indicate, Banks signed a will that left all of his assets to a woman who had helped with his care.
His family now says they had no idea.
“I find it quite interesting that she did not tell anyone that she had an attorney write up a new will,” Jerry Banks told the Chicago Sun-Times, when discussing Regina Rice, who now controls his father’s estate.
The Banks family this week said it would dispute will in court, telling reporters that they believe Rice manipulated Banks, who has been buried not far from Wrigley Field.
The will states that Banks’ wife and children were cut out “not for a lack of love and affection for them and for reasons best known by them,” the Chicago Tribune reports.
Elizabeth Banks’ attorney, Mark Bogen, on Tuesday told AP that she “received a court order giving her permission to get him buried, and she acted in accordance with that court order and buried her husband.”
Rice had reportedly planned to have Banks cremated, something his family said went against his wishes.
“Our father never told us he wanted to be cremated and we find it very suspicious that Ms. Rice, who claimed that she was taking excellent care of our father, now wants to have him cremated,” Jerry Banks said, according to the Sun-Times.
On Feb. 9, Liz Banks asked for a hearing on the validity of the will, including requiring the witnesses who signed it to testify about how the document was drawn up, court records show. Banks’ wife also filed papers to try to force Rice to compile a list of all of Banks’ assets, from his collections of baseball-related memorabilia to bank accounts, stocks and life insurance policies taken out in Banks’ name.
The judge has yet to rule on whether to grant those requests.
Banks — who was estranged from his wife and didn’t have any children living in Illinois, according to reports — suffered a heart attack and also dealt with dementia, a death certificate obtained by the Chicago station WGN states.
“It is understandable that Ernie’s family is concerned at this very sad time,” Rice said in a statement to WGN. “However, the record and those closest to Ernie will dispel any iota of concern regarding my relationship with Ernie and his trust in me to carrying out his wishes.
“I will not participate in any verbal jousting with Ernie’s family or do anything to bring negativity to the legacy of such a dear and honorable and extremely positive man. Ernie would have hated that.”