Ernie Banks' family alleges agent trying to take his estate

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CHICAGO - According to a statement by the family attorney for Ernie Banks, the agent for the Cubs legend had Banks sign a new will giving all his assets to her three months before his death.

The statement says the family believes Banks was ill when he signed the new will. Son Jerry Banks said he believed agent Regina Rice, "coerced him to give all his assets to her," according to the statement.

WGN has obtained all documents pertaining to Banks' estate, as well as his death certificate. The trust excludes Banks's wife and children. The death certificate lists dementia as a significant contributing factor to his death.

Joey Banks, another son and twin brother of Jerry, said, "In my opinion, she was using him, manipulating him and controlled him."

"Our family finds it suspicious that prior to our father's sudden death, we spoke often to Ms. Rice because she made it difficult for us to speak directly to him," Jerry Banks said. "However, she purposefully never told us that while our father was ill, he signed documents giving her total control."

Jerry Banks said the family was also concerned of Rice's wishes to have Banks cremated, as they say their father never told them he wanted to be cremated.

According to Banks family attorney Mark Bogen, the family plans to "vigorously fight and contest" the will. They said they didn't know of the new will until after Banks's funeral.

In a statement to WGN, Regina Rice says,

Ernie Banks' death was an immeasurable loss to the world and moreover, it left a tremendous void in my life. Ernie was an intricate part of my life for over twelve (12) years. Ernie trusted me to carry out his wishes, some during his lifetime and others after his life. He made me promise to adhere to his wishes and I am determined to do just that. I am also still grieving for this great man and I would ask that the media respect this and allow me to carry out the duties that Ernie set out for me to do; the court activity and record will accurately reflect the story.

It is understandable that Ernie's family is concerned at this very sad time. However, the record and those closest to Ernie will dispel any iota of concern regarding my relationship with Ernie and his trust in me to carrying out his wishes. I will not participate in any verbal jousting with Ernie's family or do anything to bring negativity to the legacy of such a dear and honorable and extremely positive man. Ernie would have hated that.

Banks died Jan. 23 of a heart attack. He was 83 years old.