In his late twenties he moved to San Antonio to increase the sales at a dealership that was not doing well. He was given a 25% interest in the dealership. At age 35, he became the full owner of a dealership. Over the succeeding years he became the owner of other dealerships in both San Antonio and New Orleans.
He invested his profits in the dealerships in local banks and over time became very wealthy. In 1985 he purchased the New Orleans Saints. He also owns the NBA team in New Orleans, the Pelicans.
Benson and his first wife adopted three children. His only living child, Renee Benson has sued her father for control of his companies contending that he is incompetent. In February of 2016, a judge in San Antonio approved the appointment of Renee Benson as the trustee of the Shirley Benson Testamentary Trust.
Tom Benson’s daughter and her children are also suing in New Orleans. That suit deals with his ownership of the Saints and the Pelicans. Initially a district judge in New Orleans dismissed the lawsuit. However, his daughter and her children are appealing.
The moral of this story is that even with very good planning, disputes will happen. This is especially true in blended family situations. Mr. Benson is married to his third wife. Care needs to be taken to address all issues and not to assume that there will always be family harmony.
Most clients think that everyone will get along in their family. Money makes people do strange things. Acknowledging that issue, will often save heartache. People should not be in denial. Listen to your estate planning attorney. He or she has seen “horror” stories.