Awhile ago we told you about Huguette Clark, a reclusive multimillionaire who died at the age of 104.
She wrote two wills about six weeks apart. In the first one, she left the majority of her $300 million estate to her relatives, many of whom she had not seen in many years and some who she had never met. The second will directly cut out all of her relatives and left $30 million to her private duty nurse, Hadassah Peri, gifts to her lawyers and accountants and funds to create an arts foundation at her $85 million mansion, Bellosguardo, in Santa Barbara, CA.
Some of her relatives contested the will, claiming that she had been unduly influenced by her caretakers. The case was supposed to go to court but, just as jury selection was about to begin, the case was settled out of court. An 81-page settlement agreement was presented to the judge and was approved.
19 heirs of Huguette Clark will receive $34.5 million with estate taxes and $11.5 million in attorney fees paid by the estate. Another big winner in the settlement is the charitable arts foundation that will be created to maintain Bellosguardo.
The biggest loser is her nurse. Hadassah Peri will not receive the $30 million she was given in the first will and, in fact, will have to pay back $5 million of the $31 million she was given during Huguette Clark’s lifetime.
Those of you who read this blog may not have $300 million and so may think that having a good will, written when there is no question of your mental state, may not be that important. But it is. Unless you want your family to have to go to court and fight for what they think they deserve, put your wishes in writing NOW and, if possible, share those wishes with your loved ones so they will know what to expect and can ask any questions they may have….while you can still answer them.
For more information about wills and other issues related to end of life planning, go to www.diesmart.com.