Almost eight years later to the day of legendary Chicago Cubs player Ernie Banks’ passing, a confidential settlement was agreed upon over his estate, according to a news release.
The announcement was made Friday, a few days before Ernie Banks’ eighth death anniversary on Jan. 23. Banks, known worldwide as “Mr. Cub,” passed away in 2015 at the age of 83.
Soon after his death, his estate was tied up in litigation after Elizabeth Banks, the widow of Ernie Banks, contested his will citing undue influence and incapacity. The will stated that Regina Rice, a longtime friend of his, was the executor, trustee and sole beneficiary.
Elizabeth Banks and his three children were not named in his will, Linda C. Chatman, of Chatman Law Offices, who represented Rice in the estate case, said.
Rice said she and Elizabeth Banks have “come to a resolution and compromise” and can now move forward in a positive light on behalf of Ernie Banks. She said she is still the executor and trustee of the Ernie Banks’ estate, and “a beneficiary.”
Rice said she couldn’t explain further how the will changed from naming her the sole beneficiary to a beneficiary or say who else was named as a beneficiary because of the terms of the confidential agreement.
“Ernie Banks’ 2014 will and trust remains in full force with Regina Rice as the executor of his estate and trustee of Ernie’s Trust,” Chatman said. “As trustee, Regina will continue to control and manage the trust, including any use of Ernie’s name and likeness.”
Rice said she met Ernie Banks “around 2002, 2003″ and stayed “very good friends” up until his passing. She found out in 2014 that he had named her in his will, she said.
Elizabeth Banks was married to Ernie Banks at the time of his death, but the two had been separated since 2007, Chatman said.
Elizabeth Banks was represented by Garofalo Law Group. Gregg Garofalo said in a statement Saturday Elizabeth Banks “looks forward to focusing on what really matters — celebrating Ernie’s life and legacy.”
He said his client is “especially grateful” for the timing of the settlement Ernie Banks and other baseball legends will soon be joined by Ryne Sandberg on Statue Row outside of Wrigley Field.
“Elizabeth’s hope is that Cub Fans, Chicagoans and all baseball fans never forget the talent, optimism and passion that Ernie possessed for not only baseball but life itself,” the statement said.
“Chicagoland, his fans, we want them to know — because it wasn’t a pretty picture — and we just want them to know that it’s been settled,” Rice said. “It’s been peacefully settled. Everybody agrees with the terms, and we want to move on and highlight Ernie’s name and likeness and share a very optimistic direction with his legacy because he was a good man. Once you start talking to people about him, you see why he was just a good man. It’s very unfortunate that it had to go through this period, but we’re in a different place now.”
Rice said she is a producer on the upcoming film, On Smoother Dirt, which is in preproduction and will depict Ernie Banks’ early life. The film doesn’t have a release date yet, Rice said, but filming is set to begin soon and she is hopeful for a 2023 release.