Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Donald Sterling Held to be Mentally Unfit


Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been deemed mentally unfit to make decisions relating to the family trust.  The Sterling Family Trust owns the team, with Donald and his estranged wife Shelly each owning a 50% share.  The trust specifies procedures related to the mental capacity of the trustees, and Donald Sterling did not meet the standard in a determination by experts, leaving his wife the decision making power for the trust. 

On Thursday, Shelly Sterling reached a deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to sell the Clippers for $2 billion.  A provision of the deal entails that Ballmer will get 100% of the team, while Shelly Sterling could still be involved in the franchise.  Shelly Sterling stated, “I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner . . . We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise.  I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success.”

See Brent Schrotenboer, Donald Sterling Ruled Mentally Unfit, Can’t Prevent Clippers Sale, USA Today, May 30, 2014. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) and Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.


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I am wondering why the Sterlings chose to put their ownership into a trust in the first place. My impression is that many sports franchises are partnerships of one form or another. I don't know if that is accurate. Does anyone have any thoughts on my first question.

Posted by: John Weaver | Jun 1, 2014 5:33:21 PM

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