As we've discussed in previous posts, making clear to relatives what an individual's estate plans are is important and may even prevent future disputes from arising. One recent news story illustrates this point and may be of interest to Bergen County residents.
Huguette Clark was the daughter of copper tycoon Sen. William Andrews Clark. She died at the age of 104 two years ago and left behind a vast fortune. Most of her $300 million fortune was to be distributed to doctors and nurses and a lawyer and accountant that she knew personally.
Clark's family was left out of the will. Since her death, they have disputed the validity of her will and have even questioned whether she was taken advantage of. They believe they are entitled to a portion of her immense fortune.
One family member could have become $19 million richer overnight. However, he died before the dispute was settled. The 60-year-old homeless man was found dead recently. He reportedly died of hypothermia. He was Sen. Clark's adopted great-grandson.
Huguette Clark lived a quiet life. In fact, she lived at a hospital for the last few decades of her life. Two separate wills have been at the center of the dispute. One leaves her fortune to her remaining relatives while the other will states that no money should be left to her relatives.
It is unclear who will inherit the heiress' fortune. However, it is clear that Bergen County residents would be wise to create their estate plans early on, update them when major life events occur and have conversations with family members about those plans.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Homeless Heir To $300 Million Huguette Clark Fortune Found Dead," Cavan Sieczkowski, Dec. 31, 2012
Our firm helps people with their estate plans. To learn more, please visit our Paramus estate administration page.