Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Astor Will Contest: a “Smoking Letter?”

From a New York Times report:

Mrs. Astor’s only son, Anthony D. Marshall, a principal beneficiary of [her presumed last] will, has said that she was competent and even witty at her 100th birthday party in March 2002, about two months after she signed the will. His lawyers have also said that Mrs. Astor was examined in 2004, a month after the last change to the will, and understood conversations without a problem.

But a letter written by Mr. Marshall on Dec. 26, 2000, paints a different picture, expressing serious concerns about his mother’s mental state. The letter was written to Dr. Howard M. Fillit of New York, an expert in geriatric medicine who is also a neuroscientist, and it appeared to respond to his diagnosis that Mrs. Astor may have been suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

In the letter, Mr. Marshall shared graphic observations of Mrs. Astor at age 98.

“She is delusional at times, having asked me, ‘Are you my only child? Do you have another son?’ (I have two sons),” Mr. Marshall wrote.

In the letter, Mr. Marshall also explained that his mother had “a tendency to wander” and to get lost while at her estates in Briarcliff Manor in Westchester County and in Northeast Harbor, Me.

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