The late reclusive heiress, Huguette M. Clark's will is causing quite a stir after recently being filed in New York City's Surrogate's Court. The will essentially cut all of Ms. Clark's relatives out of the loop and left $1 million to her financial advisers, $30 million to her nurse, and the vast majority to charity. The court battle over this enormous estate has only just begun.
Ms. Clark was the daughter of mining tycoon, and former, US Senator, William Andrews Clark. She was the only child of her father's second marriage. Ms. Clark was married once in the 1920's for a brief period and did not have any children. She lived with her mother until she died in 1963.
According to published reports, she had very limited contact with family since 2005. On May 24, she passed away at age 104, having lived in a Manhattan Hospital room for the past two decades under an assumed name. It is very sad when someone with so much passes away in this manner without the comfort of family and friends. Her advisers claim that it was Ms, Clark's wishes to remain reclusive after the 9/11 attacks.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Elder Abuse Unit has a criminal investigation in progress looking into Clark's financial affairs and her advisers, attorney Wallace Bock and accountant, Irving H. Kamsler.
There is also a undertone of elder abuse in this case. Three Clark family members tried to petition the court in New York to assign a guardian to protect Ms. Clark, back in September 2010. The relatives were allegedly blocked from visiting Ms. Clark over the years, asserting that the attorney and accountant were to blame. Unfortunately for the relatives, the judge rejected the petition and ruled against them, citing lack of evidence.
Since the will, has so many glaring issues, it seems likely that it will be contested. The beneficiary of the estate, which happens to be the attorney, is under criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney.
The Huguette Clark story will yield Trusts and Estates case studies for years to come. Questions such as what is the recourse for family members when a wealthy elderly relative changes the will later in life, cuts family ties, and names a questionable administrator of the estate? What are the proper steps to secure guardianship of an elderly or disabled relative? What should they do if they suspect the administrator of the estate is misusing estate funds? and many more.
As a Florida Probate, Trusts and Estates law firm, we will this case and share developments on the Law Planet Blog. We encourage families to openly discuss their estates, trusts, and wills. If they have questions or concerns that need to be addressed regarding Florida Estate laws, they should to seek the counsel of an experienced and qualified Florida Probate, Trusts and Estates Lawyer.