Rachel “Bunny” Mellon was the heir to the Listerine fortune and also the widow of philanthropist, Paul Mellon, who in turn was the only son of industrialist and Secretary of Treasury, Andrew Mellon. Although she tried to remain out of the public eye, Mrs. Mellon gained some notoriety during the 2008 election for contributing to John Edwards’ campaign to help him support Rielle Hunter and her baby fathered by Edwards. Her 37 page will and 9 codicils comprising another 40 pages were recently admitted to probate in Virginia. The will addressed a multitude of personal items, created life interests in various real properties for different individuals, gave $20 million to her 75 year old son, and made many charitable bequests.
1. An estate of this magnitude is generally suited for the privacy offered by a funded trust. This is doubly so when the individual does not like publicity.
2. An estate of this magnitude can also be well served by having the entire estate pass through the probate process so any potential will contest must be brought quickly (within 4 months of probate starting in Ohio) and creditors’ claims filed against the estate (six months from the date of death in Ohio).
3. She was smart to change her will as circumstances changed for her, including the death of her daughter and the conviction of her initial co-executor for operating a Ponzi scheme.
4. Unsurprisingly, she did not leave any funds to John Edwards for haircuts, child support, or otherwise.