Gilded Age Fortune Will Dispute
- Wednesday, 17 October 2012 23:30
I mentioned this last year
. Huguette Clark
was the reclusive Gilded Age heiress who lived the last 20 years of her life in a hospital under a fake name even though she owned various houses and apartments worth $150 million. She also owned personal property (i.e. jewelry, art, furnishings) worth $75 million. The story is noteworthy because at the age of 98, she finally executed a will which left most of her fortune to her distant relatives who she referred to as her heirs. Once on a will signing roll, she executed another will six weeks later which left most of her fortune to charity. The distant relatives, who did not know where she lived, are contesting the second will.
1. The most recent will is presumed to be the valid will.
2. The will can be challenged on the grounds of undue influence or her lack of mental capacity. The mental capacity argument is probably a losing argument If she were incompetent when she signed the second will, one would think that she was incompetent six weeks prior, too.
3. A funded trust would have provided her privacy and kept Cincinnati estate planning attorneys/bloggers and the general public from knowing that she was worth $300 million.
4. When a distant relative is a Gilded Age heiress, a Christmas card and occasional phone call provide a great return on investment.