Tennessee state law regarding how personal estates are taken care of when the deceased has no will is the apparent reason that the late Steve McNair’s two sons living in Mississippi have not been included as heirs.
The attorney for Mechelle McNair, widow of the slain former Tennessee Titans quarterback, said that because Steve and Mechelle McNair were married at the time of the births of their sons, Tyler, 11, and Trenton, 6, those two boys are automatically presumed to be rightful heirs to their father’s estate, according to the law.
Non-marital offspring are not afforded the same rights under Tennessee law and the burden of proof lies with those children to prove they are rightful heirs to a portion of McNair’s estate, whether through DNA evidence or court or hospital documents showing paternity, according to attorney David Callahan, who is representing Mechelle, Tyler and Trenton.
That means that McNair’s other two children, Steven L. Jr. (known as Junior) and Steven O’Brian Koran, must show sufficient proof of Steve McNair as their biological father in order to gain an inheritance from his estate.
“They are listed as potential heirs, but we do not have the information to call them heirs,” said Callahan. “Any non-marital child for any case for the State of Tennessee will have to come into court and present clear and convincing evidence they are indeed rightful heirs. Once that is done, then they would be allowed to have a share in the estate.”
Last week, Mechelle McNair was given the power to administer his estate and has 60 days to compile an inventory of her late husband’s assets and liabilities.
However, McNair’s long-time agent thinks legally his client took care of this matter for his the two older sons.
James “Bus” Cook told The City Paper that it was his understanding that such a process was undertaken years ago in Mississippi. Steve McNair did fully acknowledge the other two sons, and had spoken to Nashville media just weeks before his death about his son Steven L. Jr., who is a Division I football prospect at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Miss.
“It is my understanding that they were adjudicated long ago,” Cook said. “I really can’t go into it, but it is my understanding that they went through the process in Mississippi years ago and were shown to be rightful heirs.”
Callahan said he had not yet been contacted by any representatives for McNair’s two older sons. Cook said to his knowledge neither of the sons had yet retained legal counsel, but it is almost certain the ruling to exclude the non-marital children will be challenged.
In any event, the McNair estate will be tied up for at least nine more months and likely longer, in the event that either or both sons file petitions for a stake in the estate.
Taxes on the estate must be sorted out by April 15, and it is possible a six-month extension might be needed in the filing of those.
Also, creditors who have a claim on the estate have four months to file for anything owed to them, and a notice in the newspaper asking for such should be forthcoming soon.
The former NFL quarterback was shot to death on July 4 by his mistress, Sahel ‘Jenny’ Kazemi, who later turned the gun on herself. Metro Police ruled the incident a murder-suicide.
For more on Mechelle McNair’s ruling, click here.