We have written previously on the estate of Huguette Clark, the reclusive copper heiress that passed away in 2011 at 104 years of age. We also wrote about the continuing probate difficulties after her death. At the time of her death, her estate was valued at approximately $300 million and she had only distant relatives. Her final will, created in April of 2005, gave her funds to a host of people and organizations, one of which was Beth Israel Medical Center, the hospital at which she had been living since 1991. This will is being contested in court currently, with the distant relations claiming that Beth Israel coerced Clark into giving lavishly to them over the years. There has also been some dishonesty found on the part of her accountant, lawyer, admitting doctor and a private nurse, all of which are listed beneficiaries on her contested will.
Documents from Beth Israel regarding Clark have recently been made available due to the court proceedings. Many of the emails discuss attempts to get Clark to donate sums of money or valuables to the hospital. The hospital even hired a researcher to find information on Clark. The researcher reported back that she was indeed the child of William Andrews Clark and was the direct heiress to his vast copper fortune. After this finding, the hospital executives started visiting Clark regularly, urging her to donate funds and gifts to the hospital. They also brought her gifts and treats in an effort to persuade her.
Clark eventually donated a painting with an estimated value at nearly $6 million to an auction on the hospital’s behalf. When the painting auctioned for only $3.15 million, the hospital actually attempted to subtly coerce Clark to make up the difference with a financial contribution, to which she did not comply.
Of the documents that were entered into evidence for the court hearing are countless emails between staff members all regarding attaining funds from Clark. Also, there is argument to the court that the hospital and Clark’s advisors manipulated her into changing her will. In 2005, Clark created two different wills which starkly contradict each other. On March 7, she signed a will which gave her assets to her relatives but did not include any distributions to the hospital. After multiple visits from her primary care physician, the hospital’s Dr. Newman, a new will was created. In this new will, which is currently being disputed, Clark disinherited her relatives and left all of her assets to various individuals, organizations and to Beth Israel.
For more detailed information, read this detailed article by The New York Times.
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At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.
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