Why Are the Daughters of the Late Broncos Owner Contesting His Trust?

Why Are the Daughters of the Late Broncos Owner Contesting His Trust?

Beth Wallace and Amie Klemmer, the two oldest daughters of the late owner of the Denver Broncos, Pat Bowlen, filed a lawsuit in a Denver area court challenging the validity of their father’s trust, arguing that their father didn’t have the mental capacity and was under undue influence, when he signed his estate planning documents in 2009.

The trust has a no-contest clause, according to Colorado Public Radio’s recent article “Pat Bowlen’s Kids Are Still Fighting Over Inheritance As 2 Daughters File Lawsuit.”

Dan Reilly, a lawyer for the Patrick Bowlen Trust, said in a statement that it is “sad and unfortunate that Beth Bowlen Wallace and Amie Bowlen Klemmer have elected to contest their father’s plan and attack his personal health,” adding the lawsuit was the “latest effort in their public campaign to circumvent Pat Bowlen’s wishes.”

Bowlen died in June at age 75 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He put the trust in place hoping that one of his seven children would succeed him in running the team he purchased in 1984. In addition to the two daughters he had with his first wife, Sally Parker, Pat Bowlen had five children (Patrick, Johnny, Brittany, Annabel and Christianna) with his widow, Annabel.

Wallace said in 2018 she that wanted to succeed her father, but the trustees said she was “not capable or qualified.” Likewise, Brittany Bowlen said last fall that she wanted to become the next controlling owner of the team. She will become part of the team in November in a management position to begin that process.

Reilly said that Wallace and Klemmer never raised the issue of mental capacity, until after 2014 “when Ms. Wallace was privately told by the trustees that she was not capable or qualified to serve as controlling owner.”

Last month, Arapahoe County Court Judge John E. Scipione dismissed a lawsuit filed by Bowlen’s brother, Bill, that sought to oust team president and CEO Joe Ellis, team counsel Rich Slivka, and Denver lawyer Mary Kelley as trustees. Bill argued that they weren’t acting in good faith or in Pat’s best interests.

The judge ruled in a separate case over the trust that the court and not the NFL would decide the question of Pat’s mental capacity, when he updated his estate planning documents 10 years ago.

In electing to challenge the validity of the trust in court, Wallace and Klemmer are putting themselves at risk of being disinherited, if they’re found in violation of the no-contest clause, and the 2009 trust is upheld in court. Their rights as beneficiaries would bypass them and go to their children.

Reference: Colorado Public Radio (September 14, 2019) “Pat Bowlen’s Kids Are Still Fighting Over Inheritance As 2 Daughters File Lawsuit”