Ugly Legal Battle Over Benoit Estate

Published August 16, 2007

| FoxNews.com

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," August 15, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: There's an ugly new twist tonight involving the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide. A fight is now brewing between family members. In short, it's this. Who gets the cash? Who will inherit millions of dollars from the pro wrestler's estate? Will it be Nancy Benoit's family or Chris Benoit's two sons from a previous marriage? The answer will depend on who died first, Nancy Benoit or Daniel Benoit?

John Hollis, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter, joins us live from Atlanta. John, who did die first?

JOHN HOLLIS, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Well, Greta, first of all, thanks for having me back on the show. But according to the authorities, they firmly pretty much believe that Nancy was killed on a Friday night, June 22, and Daniel was alive until sometime the next day. I've talked with authorities — district attorney Scott Ballard. They still believe their initial findings were correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: So if Nancy was killed first, that means that the millions of dollars of assets, the home or whatever, would go to her family, maybe to parents or brothers and sisters, is that right?

HOLLIS: Right. Under Georgia law — what you got to keep in mind, under Georgia law, there's a law called the slayer (ph) statute, which means by law, Chris Benoit, who's been ruled as the killer, is automatically deemed to have died first, and therefore unable to profit, either he or his heirs, from the crime.

So then the next question is, Who died next? If Nancy died first, her estate would flow into the estate of her son, Daniel, in which case, Daniel's next of kin, which would be his half-brothers, Chris Benoit's kids from a previous marriage in Canada. If Nancy — if Daniel, rather, is deemed to have died first, his estate would flow into Nancy's estate. And upon Nancy's death, Her family would be in charge of the estate.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any true contest as to who died first?

HOLLIS: Well, I wouldn't say there's a contest. I would say, right now, the family of — Nancy's family is really just questioning — questioning the initial findings. I guess, obviously, there's so much money, there's so much — you know, the estate includes both the family's — family's two lavish homes. They've got bank accounts, investments. There's a lot of money at stake, a couple million, probably, worth at stake. So I'm sure they want to take a look at it. I'm sure they're disappointed. And obviously, it's just, you know, another sad saga to this very tragic story.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I guess I misstated first when I said if Nancy died first, it'd go to her family. It's got to be Daniel who has to die first for Nancy's family to get it.

HOLLIS: Correct. That's correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Now, in terms of — is there an actual dollar amount put on the home and any other assets?

HOLLIS: Well, I think one — the home they lived in was worth a couple million, between $1.5 million to $3 million. I think the second home, at least from what I've been told, is worth several hundred thousand. So both of these are pretty nice homes. Obviously, you know, I'm not sure what they would plan to do with them, regardless of one way or the other, but obviously, there's a lot of value here and a lot of potential money, one way or the other.

VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, the ugly reality of the fact that you discount the value of the $1.5 million home because not a lot of people want to buy a home where a double homicide and a suicide has occurred.

HOLLIS: Well, you wouldn't think so. But I mean, there are plenty of homes that have gone back on the market after people have been killed. I'm sure the price probably won't be obviously quite as high, I would imagine. You know, if I were thinking about buying it, I'd certainly — you'd have to give me a heck of a deal to think about living in a house like that.

But I think the biggest thing here, Greta, that we're really, you know, not touching on, is the fact that there were no wills. Neither Chris nor Nancy had left behind a will, which really — you know, really further complicates this whole situation.

I was talking with Kerry Etger (ph), the lawyers for Michael Benoit, Chris's dad, the other day. And you know, one thing he said is that, Hey, if I can stress one thing, it's that people need to go out and get wills, just in case. Nobody thinks these things are going to happen, especially to them, but these things do happen. So really, just, you know, save your family a lot of trouble and grief. You know, everybody should go out and get a will.

VAN SUSTEREN: Get a will. John, thank you.

Content and Programming Copyright 2007 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/08/16/ugly-legal-battle-over-benoit-estate