BB King’s estate leaves family with a mess of blues

As more and more of our American cultural icons slip away sad tales of heirs wrangling over estates are increasingly popular fodder for the evening news .

In the wake of Muhammad Ali’s passing, comes news that the late B.B.King’s $40 million estate is facing a challenge.

King set up a trust in 2007, which he subsequently revised in 2014. The challenge by King’s family focusses on his state of mind when he signed the 2014 trust. They claim he was already nearly blind by then and suffering from Alzheimer’s-related cognitive impairment. The new trust is being administered by King’s business manager.

If his family prevails in getting the 2007 trust recognized by the courts, it would be on a well-recognized precedent. If one isn’t mentally competent when making legal undertakings, then the document can be rendered irrelevant. Just dragging a pen across a piece of paper isn’t proof of competence. There must be a demonstrated clarity of thought and state of mind.

A simple way to avoid successful challenges to your estate plan

To ensure a will or powers of attorney is recognized as legitimate, I often recommend clients ask their doctor to do a very simple thing during regular visits: ask them to put a note in the file remarking on their state of mind during the visit.

That simple note can be very helpful in heading off any issues, if or when, you decide to change your will, power of attorney or any related legal documents.

If B.B. King had done this in 2014, he could have spared his family this particularly unpleasant and heartbreaking case of the blues.