Home | FAQs | Contact Us
Other Recent Developments Home
Other Articles Section

McNair leaves no will; estate battle looms

The widow of slain former NFL quarterback Steve McNair has indicated to a Nashville probate court that Mr. McNair left no will.  Mr. McNair was murdered by a girlfriend on July 4.  The probate judge granted the widow’s emergency request to allow her to oversee his estate, but a lengthy probate battle will likely ensue due to Mr. McNair’s failure to execute any estate planning documents to control his estate.

If Mr. McNair had a will in place to control the disposition of his estate, he could have controlled who received his estate and could have avoided the contentious and expensive litigation that will now ensue while the court sorts out how his estate will be distributed.
No records have surfaced to indicate that McNair — who earned more than $75 million in NFL contracts over his 13-year career — set up trust funds or completed any estate planning.

The probate court filing by the widow, Mechelle McNair, says that she and her two sons Tyler, 11, and Trenton, 6, are heirs, but that she can’t confirm whether her husband’s two other sons are actually his.  Steve McNair also has two older sons, and they will no doubt make claims against the estate as well.  At least one of them has already retained legal counsel to do so.
McNair’s oldest son, Steven L. McNair Jr., is a senior and star wide receiver at Oak Grove High in Hattiesburg, Miss. His second son, Steven O’Brian Koran McNair, 15, lives in Mount Olive, Miss.

Without a will, the McNair family’s access to the estate funds will be greatly restricted while the court supervises the estate.  Also, family members will be involved in disputes over who is entitled to what portions of the estate, whereas a will would have allowed Mr. McNair to clearly identify which family members were to receive what portions of his estate.  Without a will, the legal fees charged to the estate will be significantly greater, and the estate will be distributed pursuant to the statutory scheme contained in Tennessee law, not by whatever Mr. McNair’s true desires would have been.

A good estate plan would have eliminated many of the issues involved with the McNair estate.  If Mr. McNair had a will in place, it would be clear how his estate should be distributed.  Without a will, there will be a lengthy court battle to resolve how the estate will be distributed.

All persons with estates of significant size, regardless of their age, should have estate plans in place to avoid situations such as this.

Cowles & Thompson