Mr. Redstone’s fortune is estimated at $5 billion. He could afford the best legal plan in the world. Yet, despite the assets and despite the multitude of involved lawyers, his estate planning and his last years are turning out to be a mess.
Mr. Redstone tried to put in place plans that would ensure the continuity of management at his company Viacom. He also created a trust that managed his financial affairs. However, for now, at the age of 93, he is in control of his own trust, unless he is judged incompetent by a court. He is also in control of the Trustees who will manage the trust once he is judged incompetent.
Recently, Mr. Redstone has tried to replace the Trustees. As a result, some of the dismissed Trustees filed a lawsuit, claiming that their dismissal was invalid, because Mr. Redstone is already incompetent and is being manipulated by his daughter. Mr. Redstone is fighting this allegation.
Incapacity is a very hard topic. It is a very fluid condition, where a person may still be competent to make decisions about his some aspects of his daily living (food, cleaning, entertainment) but may be completely incompetent in his financial affairs. Furthermore, people usually believe that they are competent long after their loved ones see that they can no longer take care for themselves. Despite all the best laid plans, a court often does have to be involved.
While the litigation is pending, the only people who are benefiting from it are the lawyers. At one of the incompetency hearings, there were 22 lawyers in the court room, representing various sides in the conflict!
Disclaimer: This article only offers general information. Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions. As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship.