Billionaire Sumner Redstone’s Capacity is Questioned

RedstoneGiven conflicting medical reports, there is no one who can resolve this but a judge.

Most of us don't have a billion dollar estate to manage, nevertheless, losing our ability to manage what we have worked a lifetime acquiring would be devastating. We have enormous empathy therefore for the tribulations faced by media mogul, Sumner Redstone, whose capacity to continue to operation his $3 billion holdings in Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp is being challenged by his ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer.

A Los Angeles probate judge asked whether it was wise for the 92-year-old to name Viacom CEO Phillipe Dauman as his agent in charge of his health care decisions rather than a family member. Judge David Cowan, who will decide the case without a jury, said he isn't confident things "are all patched up" between Sumner and his daughter Shari Redstone. Herzer contends that Redstone is incapacitated and manipulated by those around him.

At least one shareholder has sued the boards of Viacom and CBS, accusing them of wasting millions of dollars paying Redstone when he was unfit to take an active role in the businesses. He stepped down as chairman of both companies only last month, days after he was examined by a psychiatrist designated by Herzer as part of her court case.

The control of Redstone's 80% voting stakes in Viacom and CBS will pass to a family trust if he becomes incapacitated or dies. Shari Redstone and Dauman are two of the seven members of that trust. Redstone's Viacom and CBS holdings are exempt from the lawsuit, as the family trust that will take control was established long ago.

Herzer, who describes herself as Redstone's longtime companion and caretaker, alleges he wasn't able to make his own decisions when he removed her from his advance healthcare directive and evicted her from his mansion last fall. Redstone's lawyers claim Herzer's ulterior motive is to contest her removal from his will. She apparently stood to inherit $50 million plus Redstone's $20 million home before she was cut out of his estate plan.

As you read this, please don't dismiss it as just another story about the rich and famous. This did not occur simply because Redstone has amassed a fortune. It's more likely this is a tale of a loved one scorned. Which makes it the type of thing that happens to ordinary people every day. Isn't it time you put an estate plan that works in place? We can help with that; schedule your complimentary consultation today.

Reference: Bloomberg (February 29, 2016) "Redstone Faces Competency Trial Amid Fight Over Media Empire"

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment


We have a LOT more where that came from!

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now https://jsfiddle.net/7h5246b8/

Request a free consultation

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.