Sumner Redstone Dies: Who Will Inherit?
On August 12, 2020, The New York Times reported that renowned media mogul Sumner Redstone had passed away. He was best known for his ownership roles at both Viacom and CBS, which today are merged as ViacomCBS. Who will fight over Redstone’s wealth in probate court? What does his estate consist of? Who will inherit?
Lawsuits Regarding Mental Capacity and Inheritance
During his lifetime, Redstone was frequently involved in litigation. Litigation regarding his massive estate had already began prior to his death. For example, Sumner was involved in a long legal battle with a former girlfriend, Menuela Herzer. Here, Herzer challenged his mental capacity. She had originally been a beneficiary in his will and, according to a recent article in the The New York Times, she stood to inherit as much as $50 million, plus his Beverly Hills house, before she was removed from his will.
In Florida, according to Florida Statute 732.501, a testator must be “of a sound mind” when executing or amending a will or trust. Therefore, at the time of an estate plan change, a person must have, in general, understood the “nature and extent of property to be disposed of and testator’s relation to those who would naturally claim a substantial benefit from will, as well as general understanding of practical effect of will as executed.” In re Wilmott’s Estate, 66 So. 2d 465(Fla. 1953), 40 A.L.R. 2d 1399.
How do you challenge a Florida estate plan change if someone is not competent? Proving that someone lacked the mental capacity to change their Florida estate can often be a difficult task. Therefore, it is a task that requires the work of skilled Palm Beach probate litigators, like those at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus. You may want to read about Redstone’s capacity litigation where the judge dismissed the case.
Likewise, being subjected to a Florida guardianship, or having a petition for incapacity filed against you, can be very stressful and expensive. If you find yourself involved in litigation to determine incapacity, it is important to speak to a trusted guardianship attorney right away.
Heirs and Beneficiaries
If you do not have a will, your estate will be considered an intestate estate. This means that your heirs will inherit according to the intestacy laws of the state in which you die or own property. However, if you have a properly executed will or trust, your estate will be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the estate documents. However, probate lawyers know that, even if you have estate documents in place, inheritance battles between beneficiaries, or people who believe they should be a beneficiary, may occur.
Redstone is survived by a daughter, son, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Will they inherit everything? Will his ex-girlfriends sue his estate for an inheritance now that he is gone?
At Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, we do not handle cases in California where Redstone died. However, we do handle trust, estate, and guardianship litigation throughout Florida. If you are in need of an experienced litigator for your Florida inheritance or mental capacity lawsuit, call (561)514-0900 Ext.101 for a FREE consultation.