Confidential settlement agreement reached in case over Ernie Banks’ estate
Almost eight years later, on the day of legendary Chicago Cubs player Ernie Banks’ death, a confidential settlement was reached regarding his estate, according to a press release.
The announcement came on Friday, a few days before Banks’ eighth anniversary of his death on January 23. Banks, known worldwide as “Mr. Cub” died in 2015 at the age of 83.
Shortly after his death, his estate became embroiled in litigation after Elizabeth Banks, widow of Ernie Banks, challenged his will citing undue influence and incompetence. The will stated that Regina Rice, a longtime friend of his, was the executor, trustee and sole beneficiary.
Elizabeth Banks and his three children were not named in his will, said Linda C. Chatman of Chatman Law Offices, who represented Rice in the probate case.
Rice said she and Elizabeth Banks “come to a solution and a compromise” and can now move forward in a positive light on behalf of Ernie Banks. She said she is still the executor and trustee of the Ernie Banks estate and “a beneficiary”.
Rice said she could not further explain how the will changed from her sole beneficiary to one beneficiary, or say who else was named as a beneficiary under the terms of the confidential agreement.
“Ernie Banks’ 2014 will remains in full force and effect with Regina Rice as executor and trustee of Ernie’s Trust,” Chatman said. “As trustee, Regina will continue to control and administer the trust, including the use of Ernie’s name and likeness.”
Rice said she met Ernie Banks “around 2002, 2003” and remained “very good friends” until his death. She found out in 2014 that he gave her a name in his will, she said.
Elizabeth Banks was married to Ernie Banks at the time of his death, but the two had been separated since 2007, Chatman said.
Elizabeth Banks was represented by the Garofalo Law Group. Gregg Garofalo said in a statement on Saturday that Elizabeth Banks “looks forward to focusing on what really matters – celebrating Ernie’s life and legacy.”
The story goes on
He said his client was “particularly grateful” for the timing of the settlement. Ernie Banks and other baseball legends will soon be joined by Ryne Sandberg on Statue Row outside of Wrigley Field.
“Elizabeth hopes that Cub fans, Chicagoans and all baseball fans will never forget the talent, optimism and passion that Ernie possessed not only for baseball but for life itself,” the statement said.
“Chicagoland, its fans, we want them to know — because it wasn’t a pretty picture — and we just want them to know that it’s settled,” Rice said. “It was settled peacefully. Everyone agrees to the terms and we want to go ahead and highlight Ernie’s name and likeness and give his legacy a very optimistic direction because he was a good man. Once you start talking to people about him, you see why he was just a good man. It is very unfortunate that it had to go through this period, but we are in a different place now.”
Rice said she is producing the upcoming film On Smoother Dirt, which is in pre-production and will follow the early life of Ernie Banks. The film doesn’t have a release date yet, Rice said, but filming is set to begin soon and she’s hoping for a 2023 release.