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Fiercely Protecting an Individual's Post-Death Plans

Typically, if a will or trust is challenged, it happens after a person dies.
But as life spans grow longer and wealth accumulates among the aging, beneficiaries are increasingly seeking to secure inheritances while settlors are still alive. 

The result? A marked rise in trust and estate litigation questioning mental capacity pre-death.

Faced with such challenges, Sumner Redstone — the former chair and controlling shareholder of Viacom and CBS Corp. — called on Loeb & Loeb’s Trust and Estate Litigation team to protect and preserve his advance health care directive and the estate plan he established to govern his fortune and legacy.

Mr. Redstone, an American businessman born in 1923 and a noted philanthropist who’s lived a long and distinguished life, sought an order from the Superior Court of the State of California to confirm the validity of modifications he made to the plan.

An ugly and very public legal battle ensued, questioning Mr. Redstone’s mental competency. The yearslong litigation not only required the Loeb team to handle sensitive trust and estate issues, it also required attention to personal health and private matters — all under intense public scrutiny.

An onslaught of legal actions fueled provocative headlines that riveted both Hollywood and Wall Street.

Opposing counsel boldly proclaimed to the press that “fifteen minutes should be more than enough” to establish that Mr. Redstone lacked sufficient mental capacity to execute his estate planning documents.

They were wrong.

During videotaped testimony, Mr. Redstone — 92 years old at the time — was composed and very alert, making his feelings “crystal clear,” according to the court.

After the first day of trial, Loeb secured complete dismissal of the challenge to Mr. Redstone’s advance health care directive. Subsequently, Loeb’s lawyers obtained an order confirming the media mogul’s capacity and free will to execute his estate plan as he saw fit.

This victory cemented Loeb’s proven track record of successfully litigating high-profile trust and estate disputes.

It also demonstrated that careful estate planning is critical. But, alive or dead, sometimes it takes fierce advocacy and defense to protect you and your legacy.