Trials & Litigation

Widow of author Tom Clancy battles lawyer over $6M in estate taxes

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The widow of author Tom Clancy is battling a Baltimore lawyer over an extra $6 million in estate taxes she says he is requiring her to pay, contrary to the provisions of her husband’s will.

Alexandra Clancy is trying to get attorney J.W. Thompson “Topper” Webb removed as the executor of Tom Clancy’s estimated $82 million estate, the Baltimore Sun reports.

She contends that Webb should not have planned to pay $16 million in estate taxes from a trust in which she and the author’s children are beneficiaries. That’s because a 2013 amendment to Tom Clancy’s will says assets that require her to pay estate taxes should not be included in her trusts, the newspaper explains.

Attorney Norman L. Smith of Fisher & Winner represents the widow. He says handling the matter as Webb is doing is unnecessarily adding $6 million to the estate tax bill.

Webb did not respond last week to the newspaper’s request for comment, but a lawyer for the author’s children said the executor’s tax plan is viable.

“Miles and Stockbridge is a very competent law firm,” wrote Sheila K. Sachs, referring to Webb’s firm, in an email to the Sun, “and their administration of the estate may be in accord with the documents, although contrary to Ms. Clancy’s position.”

Sachs, who practices with Gordon Feinblatt, said it is up to the Maryland probate court overseeing the estate distribution to decide “which interpretation is consistent with the testamentary documents and applicable law.”

Tom Clancy’s share in the Baltimore Orioles, which is worth some $65 million, is the estate’s biggest asset. It also includes millions in literary assets, real estate, firearms and a Canadian-built army tank from the 1940s valued at $250,000.

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) also has a story.

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