Copper heiress Hugette Clark died in 2011 at the age of 104. A recluse, the last years of her life were spent in the company of her nurse and a handful of others in her employ. Hugette lived far from her several mansions, her hospital residency beginning in 1991. She was survived by nineteen distant relatives, fourteen of whom she’d never met. None could recall speaking with her in person since 1957. The closest of these relatives were half grand nieces and nephews.
Hugette’s Estate is notable for a couple of reasons; first, her estate was valued at over $300 million at her death. Second, her relatives challenged her will, contending that Hugette was mentally incapacitated and under the influence of several people- namely, her nurse, attorney, and accountant.
The heiress’s last will states, “"I intentionally make no provision ... for any members of my family ... having had minimal contacts with them over the years." Part of the reason the would-be-heirs have taken issue with the last will is its departure from a will executed a mere six weeks earlier, which left the lion’s share of her estate to family. Hugette Clark’s relatives, and the world, await the outcome of ongoing proceedings.
We’ve run a few stories about Hugette Clark’s estate over the last year because it’s quite interesting and very sad all at once. The Clark story is another reminder of the issues that can emerge at death. True, most of us need not worry about the disposition of a $300 million estate, but end of life issues are not often pleasant for anyone. There are some situations in which family members pull together, and others which are polarizing. Our office has a staff with tremendous experience and knowledge in trust administration and probate. We’re also experienced in dealing with the stresses, emotions, and conflicts that can arise on death. We are committed to making the estate administration process as seamless as possible.
Contributed by MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney Andrea Claus
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