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CNN news anchor, Anderson Cooper, is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt who died last month at the age of 95. She in turn was the great-great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. She left all of her estate to Cooper save for her $1.2 million Manhattan co-op which she left to her son, Stan Stokowski.

Gloria Vanderbilt inherited a trust fund worth $35 million in today’s dollars when she turned 21. She also rode the wave of the designer jeans trend in the late 1970’s with her eponymous fashion which was worth $100 million at one time. Initial reports soon after her death speculated that she was worth $200 million. Probate Court filings have since revealed that she only owned her co-op and $1.5 million.

Several points, none too shocking:

1. The data about her net worth would be private if Vanderbilt had used a funded trust for her estate planning.

2. Rare is the fortune that lasts five generations before it is dissipated.

3. Four divorces, dedication to philanthropy, advisors who embezzle, and living into one’s 90s deplete one’s assets.

4. An incredibly gifted plastic surgeon will also deplete assets.

 

Photo Credit:  Unknown

License:  Fair Use/Education

Melvin and Howard

Melvin Dummar died this week. He was famous for having been named as a 1/16th beneficiary of Howard Hughes’ unwitnessed handwritten will which was known as “The Mormon Will.

Dummar allegedly found a disheveled Hughes near a Nevada brothel and gave him a ride to The Sands hotel in 1967. After Hughes’ death in 1976, an unknown man delivered a letter to Dummar, who was then living in Utah, for forwarding to the Church of Latter Day Saints. Before delivering it, Dummars steamed it open and saw that he and the Mormon Church were listed as beneficiaries of the will. Hughes was not a Mormon, but Dummars was. The will was one of 40 wills purportedly made by Hughes none of which were deemed to be valid.

A valid will for Hughes was never found resulting in his fortune benefitting distant cousins and other relatives. Hughes reportedly did not want his relatives to benefit from his fortune. Dummar’s alleged encounter with Hughes was made into the award winning movie, “Melvin and Howard,” in 1980.

Several points:

1. As a single man with no children and no siblings, Hughes definitely should have prepared an estate plan to distribute his billions.

2. As a man who dated Katherine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, and Gloria Vanderbilt among others, it is doubtful that Hughes frequented a brothel hours from Las Vegas although the uncut hair and fingernails might have been a turn off..

3. If this incredible story were not already made into a movie, it screams of material that needs to be made into a movie.

Photo Credit:  United Press International

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

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All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.