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Mental Incompetency: Two high profile cases, Two lessons learned

Billionaire, majority owner of Viacom, Sumner Redstone (left), 10 Years Ago with Mel Karmazin, former CBS Owner

Lesson 1: Sumner Redstone, Billionaire: Mental Incompetency Case Dismissed

The Trial over the Mental Incompetency of 92 year old billionaire, Sumner Redstone (former chairman of Viacom of the Viacom Media Empire), was dismissed by the Judge.

As previously stated in my blog “Media Mogul Redstone Court Fight” click here  Mr. Redstone’s former girlfriend had filed an incompetency lawsuit in California Courts after Mr. Redstone removed her as his health-care agent and reinstated his daughter, Shari Redstone.

Lesson 2: Donald Sterling, former owner of Clippers: Mental Incompetency Activated

As we discussed in our previous blogs regarding Donald Sterling, former owner of the NBA Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team click here, Mental Incapacity can be determined under the terms of a Living Trust. One can plan for Mental Disability in their Living Trust by building in a mechanism for activating Trusteeship over that person if they become mentally incompetent. Often that involves a Mental Disability Panel consisting of physician(s) and loved ones.

In Donald Sterling’s case, his wife was able to activate the mental incompetency mechanism without going through the expense, publicity and delay of going through a lawsuit in Court.

In Mr. Redstone’s case there appears to be no such Estate Planning in place. Therefore an incompetency lawsuit was filed nearly six (6) months ago in California Superior Court in November of 2015 by Mr. Redstone’s former girlfriend.

How Mr. Redstone prevailed…

Recently, the Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge dismissed the Incompetency Lawsuit against Mr. Redstone after reviewing the evidence, including a video tape showing Mr. Redstone’s apparent capacity in that he was well oriented as to time, place and person.

Mr. Redstone now has the opportunity to put Mental Incapacity Planning in place through Trust Planning. One cannot do it in a Will as a Will is only effective after death.

Since his mental capacity legally stays in place, he remains the primary share holder at both CBS and Viacom companies. He will remain in place until he is declared legally incompetent or dies.

Mr. Redstone’s interest in both CBS and Viacom are held by an Irrevocable Trust which was created some time ago for the benefit of his five (5) grandchildren.

When one does Estate Planning they do need to plan for Mental Incapacity. What we are seeing is that it appears to be hitting almost fifty-percent (50%) of people as they age. Mental Disability can be in the form of Alzheimer Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Vascular Dementia, or some other type of dementia or mental incapacity.

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At the Law Firm of Steven Andrew Jackson, Attorney and Counsellor at Law, we have helped hundreds of families protect themselves and their loved ones, avoid Estate Taxes and Probate Costs, and keep their Estate Plans current with the law through The Customized Protective Estate Planning Solution™.