Trusts & Estates

Former lawyer for deceased stage actress Julie Harris sues to invalidate her will

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Fired in 2009 by award-winning stage actress Julie Harris, her former lawyer and onetime potential executor, Herbert Nass, has filed an objection to her will in a Massachusetts probate court.

He claims in the Barnstable Probate and Family Court filing that Harris, who died in August at age 87, “was not of sound mind or memory” when she executed her final will several months after letting him go. Nass also alleges that “fraud and undue influence” were exercised by the actress’s new executors, attorney Isaac Peres and actress Francesca Rubino, who served as a caretaker for Harris, according to the Cape Cod Times and Playbill.

Peres told the newspaper the claims by Nass are “completely untrue.”

Under the new will, Harris’ son, Peter Gurian, gets most of her estate of at least $3.7 million and perhaps as much as $10 million. A total of $300,000 or more goes to various charities. These provisions are much the same as those in the former will prepared for Harris by Nass, the newspaper says, except for the executor in charge of the estate. In addition to being paid a fee as co-executor, Rubino also inherits $50,000 under the will.

In a 2009 letter, Harris, a longtime resident of Cape Cod, told Nass that she was firing him because he had made decisions about her life contrary to her wishes, the Times reports.

But Nass told the Times that he is objecting to the new will because his longtime representation of Harris makes him feel obligated to do so. At least one other person who might otherwise object is hampered by a provision that potentially eliminates beneficiaries if he contests the will, he said.

“He just won’t accept it,” said Peres of Nass, referring to Harris’ decision in 2009 to let him go. “Nobody’s stuck with an attorney for life.”

Peres said he plans to file a motion to strike Nass’ objection. A court hearing is scheduled in February.

The New York Post also has a story.

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