It’s summer and time for baseball.
You might ask what that has to do with estate planning and
we intend to answer that question.
In this issue of our newsletter we
will look at the situations of three famous people
associated with major league baseball, Larry Pogofsky,
Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett and finally, baseball great,
All have had litigation that sprung
up among their heirs after their deaths. In all cases, it
seems clear that none of the people mentioned above would
have wanted things to turn out this way.
Let’s start with the tamest of the
three stories; Larry Pogofsky, a longtime Chicago White
Sox fan, team investor and longtime autographed baseball
He was reportedly so proud of his
autographed baseball collection that he would dedicate
time daily just to admire the display.
He had the autographs of the famous
Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Roberto Clemente, to name a
few. Pogofsky even had one signed by Babe Ruth, which one
dealer said could fetch $25,000, depending on its
His goal was to have a baseball
signed by every member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sadly, Larry died last year,
He left a wife and two sons. Neither
of his son’s were apparently entitled to the collection,
but both reportedly interested in making it theirs.
Probably because Larry died
unexpectedly, nothing about the collection was written
One son (Brad) says the collection
was always promised to him, and based on this, took a
number of the baseballs. He was later arrested for this.
The other son (Benjamin) said that
the baseballs were promised to him and possibly in
writing. Although no writing has been put forth that we
know of, Ben’s mother seems to back up his story. There is
even an allegation that Ben got the local police to go
after Brad to get the baseballs back.
The moral of this story, you never
know when you’re going to be struck out. If something is
important to you, write it down properly, have it
witnessed and notarized and let everyone know what you
have in mind.
On to the second strike, this one
involving a dispute over the ashes of Kirby Puckett, a
centerfielder and Hall of Famer who died unexpectedly of a
stroke at 45 years of age.
It turned out that after being
cremated, there were two sets of interested parties
waiting to claim his ashes. Up first were Kirby’s two
children. Batting second was Kirby’s fiancée, Jodi Olson.
After some litigation, an Arizona
court awarded the ashes to Kirby’s children, since they
were his next of kin. As one reporter noted, the ashes
were actually given to Kirby’s ex wife, as the mother and
guardian for the children. Possibly not someone Kirby was
extremely close to.
Whether its one’s ashes or burial
instructions, the lesson to be learned here is to document
your final instructions (wishes) and let your family know
how you want them carried out. A dispute like this means
an umpire will be brought in from outside to decide
whether you are safe or out.
Our last story, involves Ted
Williams. It is truly bizarre.
In 1996, Williams signed a will
stating that he wished to be cremated and to have his
ashes spread out at sea. After his death in 2002, however,
the executor of his estate claimed that Williams wanted to
be cryogenically frozen. Two of his children supported
this action, citing a piece of paper Williams had signed
in which the three all agreed to be frozen so that they
would, according to an article from the AP, "be able to be
together in the future, even if it is only a chance." His
eldest daughter fought against the disposition of his
body, but gave up after running out of money. Williams is
currently frozen, with his head separated from his body.
His son died of leukemia in 2004 and was also frozen.
What can we learn from all of these
baseball players and fans? After all, baseball players
aren’t the only families who experience this type of
family disharmony. The courts are filled with cases
involving disputes that may appear minor, but that are
important to the people involved. Usually those fighting
feel like they are trying to do what’s right.
The best way to minimize these types
of disputes is to be clear with our loved ones about what
is important to us and to be clear as to how you would
like to see things happen after your death.
If you have questions,
here to have our office call to set up a time to
discuss this with you.
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