Ernie Banks had assets of just $16,000 when he died last month, according to a lawyer for the caregiver at the center of the bitter dispute over the Cubs’ legend’s will.
But Banks’ widow “just wants to know what happened” to “Mr. Cub’s” wealth, her lawyer said.
During a brief but heated court appearance Tuesday morning, Cook County Probate Court Judge James G. Riley tried to cool tempers by ordering Banks’ live-in caregiver and agent, Regina Rice, to provide more detailed documentation about Banks’ assets within 30 days.
The ugly fight over the beloved Cubs icon’s estate was triggered when, just three months before he died, the ailing Banks signed a will that left all of his assets to Rice — a will his family learned of only after he died.
Rice says she was Banks’ trusted confidante and that he wanted her to have everything. But Banks’ estranged wife, Liz Banks, and his sons say they are “suspicious” of Rice, who they believe took advantage of Banks by coercing him into signing the will.
In court Tuesday, Liz Banks’ attorney, Tom Jefson, said that he was concerned that Rice’s attorney, Linda Chatman, estimated Banks’ estate was worth just $16,000.
“There’s no allegation of fraud or embezzlement,” Jefson said. “We’d just like to know what happened.”
Chatman said that the $16,000 figure was just a preliminary estimate, but that the real value in Banks’ estate was in the rights to his image and likeness.
Rice, who wore her trademark large-framed glasses in court and carried a Louis Vuitton handbag, declined to comment after the hearing.
She earlier this month angered Banks’ family by posting on Facebook a photograph of a bottle of champagne she enjoyed at a spa just eight days after Banks was buried.
The judge ruled Tuesday that until the case is resolved, Rice can’t sell any of Banks’ assets without prior court approval.