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Tom Benson settles trust dispute, ending legal challenges to Pelicans and Saints ownership succession

Pelicans ownership appears to be on more solid ground.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Today the New Orleans Pelicans officially announced terms of settlement have been agreed to between Tom Benson and his estranged heirs. Exact terms will remain confidential. This is the final case involving the ownership dispute.

The ownership dispute began last January when Benson sought to restructure his succession plan to allow his wife, Gayle Benson, to succeed him as owner. To do so Tom Benson planned to remove shares of the Saints and Pelicans from a trust established for his grandchildren.

His heirs, including hand-picked successor Rita Benson, filed multiple lawsuits to prevent the shares from being removed. One, questioning Tom Benson's competency, was decided in his favor last June. A second case, dealing primarily with Tom Benson's assets in Texas, was recently settled February. This was the final case involving the dispute and was scheduled to begin trial next week. Since it involved the shares of the Saints and Pelicans and was open to the public important financial information on both organizations could have been revealed.

The full press release is included below.

New Orleans – It was announced today that terms of a settlement have been reached by Tom Benson and the trustees. Terms will remain confidential.

The parties have informed the National Football League and the National Basketball Association of the terms related to the framework of the settlement. Operations for all Tom Benson business properties including the New Orleans Saints, the New Orleans Pelicans, WVUE-FOX 8, automotive dealerships and Benson Tower remain "business as usual."

What does all this mean? Tom Benson likely shelled out an astronomical amount of money to make his heirs happy and ensure the franchises are controlled by his wife, Gayle Benson, when he passes away. Important financial information involving franchises in the NFL and the NBA are not made public.

Specifically for the Pelicans there is a significant increase in perceived stability surrounding the franchise that these lawsuits had diminished. This wrapping up before the draft and free agency is a positive, although to what degree cannot be accurately ascertained.