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Probate litigation can involve unintended jurisdictional problems

Many in Georgia and throughout the country feel that one of life's most unpleasant tasks is determining how their estate will be distributed in the event of their incapacitation or deaths. When the person at the center of the case is an elderly tycoon who controls giant media companies, the stakes are inherently significantly higher and more complex. A recent probate litigation case has hit a snag when ousted members of Sumner Redstone's trust have brought suit to maintain the estate case's jurisdiction.

Redstone, the 93-year-old is the majority owner and chairman of the board of the National Amusements theater chain. Through National Amusements, Redstone and his family are majority owners of CBS Corporation and Viacom, which is the parent company of Viacom Media Networks, BET Networks and the film studio Paramount Pictures. Viacom's CEO, Philippe Dauman, and board member George Abrams have recently been removed from the trust, and have filed a lawsuit to keep the probate case in Massachusetts, while Redstone's attorneys want the suit to either be dismissed or transferred to California where Redstone currently resides.

Dauman and Abrams further claim that Redstone was manipulated by his daughter to remove them from the trust. The plaintiffs have asserted that Redstone has always been clear that he did not want any family member, particularly his daughter, to be in charge of his operations. The judge in the case wants to review additional requested information as to Redstone's mental competency.

Those in Georgia who want to have a clear path in how their estate is handled could benefit from discussing their unique situation with an attorney. Attorneys who focus on estate planning and probate litigation can evaluate a potential client's financial situation and desires, and recommend the best options available for them to protect their investments and ensure that estate and trust decisions are handled appropriately in the event of death or mental incapacitation. Having a plan in place can also limit the amount of lawsuits and issues that may arise because of jurisdictional disputes or other reasons.

Source:, "Sumner Redstone court drama keeps dragging on", Tom Kludt, June 30, 2016

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