Reclusive Heiress’ Estate Settled

wills and trusts lawyersHuguette Clark died in 2011. At the time of her death, she had more than $300,000,000 in assets. There has recently been a tentative settlement agreement worked out between a variety of parties litigating over the late Huguette Clark’s $300,000,000 estate.

Her Life Story

Ms. Clark was born in 1906. She died at the age of 104. She had been residing in a mansion on Fifth Avenue. She had been married once for a short period of time and never had children. Huguette lived most of her life as a recluse. Many of her family members involved in the estate litigation had never even met her.

Ms. Clark had lived for the last twenty years of her life at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. She had entered the hospital in 1991 with a severe case of skin cancer. The skin cancer caused a disfigurement of her face. After extensive plastic surgery to rehabilitate her face, she refused to go back to her spacious apartment on Fifth Avenue. She continued to live in her hospital room until the day she died. She kept the shades closed and the door to her hospital room closed. She spent her time playing with dolls and watching cartoons.

Ms. Clark’s fortune was inherited. Her father, William Andrews Clark, made his fortune by owning copper mines.

Wills That She Left

Huguette Clark executed two different wills in 2005 during a period of six weeks. The first will left all but $5,000,000 of her estate to a variety of family members. The second Will left her family nothing. It left all of her assets to a foundation for the arts and various individuals she knew. These individuals included her lawyer, who was the draftsman of her will, her accountant, her doctor and one of her nurses.

Settlement Worked Out on Her Estate

A lawsuit had been filed by Ms. Clark’s twenty grandnieces and grandnephews. It was their position Ms.Clark was incompetent, there was undue influence and fraud with regard to the execution of the second Will and therefore it should be declared invalid.

A tentative settlement has been worked out on the estate. The New York State Attorney General’s office helped mediate the settlement. Under this agreement, her family would receive $34,500,000, after taxes. The late Ms. Clark’s lawyer, Wallace Bock, her accountant, Irving Kamsler, would receive no inheritance. Ms. Clark’s nurse, Hadassah Peri, would also not inherit any funds from her estate and in addition would have to return the $5,000,000 she was given during Ms. Clark’s life. Although Mrs. Peri received nothing from her estate, she was allowed to keep the more than $30,000,000 she received in gifts during Ms. Clark’s lifetime. Ms. Clark’s lawyer and accountant would also be entitled to keep the gifts they had received during her lifetime. The Corcoran Gallery of Art, where her father’s art collection is maintained, received $10,000,000 under the planning and wills and trusts