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Elder Law

Docs filed in will contest over heiress’ $300M estate and ‘accountability of professionals’

Posted May 30, 2013 4:02 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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As a September trial looms in a will contest over the $300 million estate of a copper heiress who died in 2011 at age 104, documents filed Wednesday in the Manhattan Surrogate's Court case provide new details about the facts at issue.

On March 7, 2005, Huguette Clark executed a brief will that provided for her distant relatives, but not the hospital had already benefited from millions of dollars in gifts above and beyond the cost of her care, at some $1,200 per day, during the nearly 20 years she spent as a patient there, the New York Times (reg. req.) reports in a front-page article that also links readers to copies of the documents.

But after the chief executive of New York's Beth Israel Medical Center visited her on March 18, 25, and 27, 2005, she executed a second will that cut out her family and gave the hospital $1 million, the newspaper says. It is the second will that is at issue in the court case.

The documents show that hospital officials worked for years to try to persuade Clark to be generous to Beth Israel. However, she was sharp and appreciative of the care and company she got at the hospital, its lawyer says.

"Having provided lifesaving and compassionate care to a person of Ms. Clark's wealth, it would have been surprising if Beth Israel had not approached her for donations," wrote the hospital's attorney, Marvin Wexler, in a response earlier this year to the Manhattan public administrator.

The public administrator, which is the temporary administrator of Clark's estate, is seeking the return of various gifts made by Clark, the newspaper notes.

"What this is about is not just a will contest," said attorney John Morken, who is representing Clark's distant relatives. "It's about the accountability of professionals."

See also:

ABAJournal.com (June 2011): "Heiress Huguette Clark’s Will Leaves $500K to Her Lawyer"

ABAJournal.com (Nov. 2011): "Relatives of Heiress Huguette Clark Accuse Lawyer and Accountant of ‘Plundering’ Her Fortune"

ABAJournal.com (Dec. 2011): "NY Official Points Finger at Lawyer for Heiress, Calls $90M in Unpaid Gift Tax ‘Tip of the Iceberg’"

ABAJournal.com (May 2012): "Staff of Reclusive Heiress Coerced Her Out of $44M in Gifts, Executor Says"

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