Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub” passed away in January of an apparent heart attack. Only three months prior to his death, Banks executed a new Will cutting out his family and leaving his estate to his longtime caregiver, Regina Rice. Within weeks of Banks’ funeral, his family accused Rice of taking advantage of the Hall of Famer when his health had deteriorated by forcing him to execute the new Will in her favor.
A Cook County judge subsequently confirmed the Banks’ Will over the family’s objections. Attorneys for the Banks’ family have reportedly said they will appeal. Had Banks executed the Will on or after January 1, 2015, however, Illinois’ new Presumptively Void Transfers Act (“the Act”) (Public Act 098-1093) would have applied to the dispute, potentially voiding the transfer to Rice.
Essentially, the Act adds provisions to the Probate Act of 1975 to facilitate family challenges to testamentary gifts made to a “caregiver” by means of a will, trust, deed, contract, or beneficiary designation form. A caregiver under the Act is a non-family member who has assumed reasonability for all or a portion of the care of an individual making the testamentary transfer who needs assistance with daily living activities. If the validity of the testamentary gift is challenged (as in Banks’ case), then there is a statutory presumption that the transfer to the caregiver is void if the fair market value of the transferred property exceeds $20,000.