In a recent blog post, we discussed the messy and complicated situation that has significantly affected the family, friends and charitable ventures of wealthy copper heiress, Huguette Clark. As readers may remember, Clark left behind a $300 million fortune with questionable directions on how to distribute the assets after her death.
After a lengthy and contentious battle, however, an agreement has finally been reached. Residents in Los Angeles may want to take this into consideration, as it reflects the challenges of executing a questionable estate plan.
Clark reportedly left behind two versions of a will, both of which were drafted when she was 98. The first one was fairly traditional and expressed her wishes that much of her money be distributed to distant relatives and various charities. Then just six weeks later, Clark reportedly signed a different will, which painted a much different picture of her wishes. Her family members were completely excluded in the second will and replaced with hospitals, attorneys, a nurse and a goddaughter.
Based on the size of the estate, the time period between wills, the significant differences in Clark’s wishes and the age at which Clark signed the wills, it was not surprising that the terms of the documents were challenged. But finally, there has been an agreement and it appears to comply more with Clark’s first will than her second.
According to reports, the family members will receive a total of more than $34 million, with the rest being distributed to various arts and charitable foundations. Clark’s nurse will have to give back $5 million of the $30 million she had received while Clark was still alive but will be able to keep the remaining assets. Perhaps reflective of the accusations that Clark’s lawyer and accountant manipulated her into changing her will to include them, the two parties will not receive anything in the settlement.
Reports indicate that the parties involved feel that, for the most part, the agreement is fair and in-line with Clark’s wishes. They are also reportedly pleased to avoid a lengthy and contentious trial.
Source: The New York Times, “Deal Over Heiress’s Two Wills Benefits Charities and Family,” Sept. 24, 2013