Legal Ethics

Relatives of Heiress Huguette Clark Accuse Lawyer and Accountant of 'Plundering' Her Fortune


Relatives of reclusive heiress Huguette Clark allege in a court filing that the elderly woman’s lawyer and accountant mishandled and misappropriated her assets in the 15 years before her death.

A motion (PDF) filed by the relatives accuses the lawyer and accountant of “plundering” Clark’s fortune and seeks a role for the family in an accounting of assets, MSNBC.com reports in a story noted by the Associated Press and the New York Post. The lawyer, Wallace Bock, and accountant, Irving Kamsler, have not been accused of any crime in connection with the case and both have denied wrongdoing. They are also serving as executors of her will.

The court filing says the “so-called professionals” gained control of Clark’s assets through powers of attorney. “Before the court are substantial and gravely serious issues of alleged deceit, undue influence and exploitation of a very elderly and extraordinarily wealthy woman at the hands of two professionals who, with the help of certain others, took control of her life, isolated her from family, and ultimately stripped her of her free will, as well as millions of dollars,” alleges the document filed on behalf of the relatives.

The motion says Clark signed two wills, six weeks apart, in 2005. The first left $5 million to her longtime nurse and everything else to her 21 closest relatives. The second gave $34 million to the nurse, nothing to the family, and $500,000 to Bock and Kamsler. The largest share of the money went to a charitable foundation to promote the arts to be controlled by the lawyer and accountant.

Clark moved to a hospital room more than 20 years before her death, although she was in relatively good physical health, MSNBC says.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Heiress Huguette Clark’s Will Leaves $500K to Her Lawyer”

ABAJournal.com: “Report: DA’s Office Is Probing Finances of Heiress, 104; Lawyer & Accountant Handle Her $500M Assets”

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