Estate of Wealthy Heiress in Will Contest

On May 24, 2011, a wealthy and reclusive New York millionaire passed away leaving behind a $400 million estate. However, many questions have been raised, and allegations of wrongdoing have been leveled against the attorney and accountant for the deceased woman. Moreover, it now appears that the family of the woman may initiate a will contest following the discovery of a second will.

The wealthy heiress is the daughter of perhaps one of the richest men in the United States during the early 20th century. Her father, who died in 1925, built the fortune through copper mining and once served as a senator of Montana. However, she has not been seen much since moving into a hospital room in the late 1980s.

In her last will and testament, she reportedly left most of her wealth to an art foundation that the will created. The remainder of the wealth went to her nurse, attorney and accountant, while leaving nothing to her family. But according to family members, it appears that the attorney and accountant may have mishandled funds, and may also be inappropriately benefiting from the will; both were named as executors of her estate and as directors of the new art foundation, potentially earning them millions.

Moreover, in the last 15 years of her life, the attorney and accountant spent $170 million supposedly on behalf of the deceased woman. That would work out to spending of about $1 million per month for a woman who never left her hospital room during that time period. Then, a second will was discovered that was signed just six weeks before the previously known will.

In that newly discovered will, the woman left $5 million to her nurse with the rest going to her family members. Obviously, this is a very large discrepancy from the other will, and may help the family in bringing forth an undue influence suit against the attorney and accountant. Undue influence is a legal term referring to someone using coercion or some other inappropriate means to convince another to leave them assets when that person normally would not have done so. For the family and other New York residents considering a will contest, the assistance of a probate and estate administration attorney may well prove to be invaluable.

Source: The Forbes, "Mysteries Surround the $400 Million Estate of Huguette Clark," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Nov. 28, 2011

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