Thursday, October 18, 2007

Astor Estate: Criminal Intent?

Negotiations to settle the dispute over Brooke Astor's estate were close to success but have failed, according to an Associated Press dispatch:
At issue, in general, is which of two wills conveys the true intentions of Astor, the philanthropist who died in August at age 105.

Her son, Anthony Marshall, supports a 2002 will and codicils, or additions, which benefit him at the expense of the charities Astor named.

Others, including Astor's grandson, Philip Marshall, contend a 1997 will was the last one she was competent to sign.
The New York Times reports that settlement talks were suspended "because the Manhattan district attorney’s office is presenting evidence to a grand jury as part of a criminal inquiry into the handling of Mrs. Astor’s fortune and will by her son, Anthony D. Marshall, and others before her death. . . .

"[P]rosecutors are exploring, among other issues, whether Mrs. Astor was subject to undue influence related to millions of dollars in money and property transfers in the last several years that benefited Mr. Marshall, who had his mother’s power of attorney. The prosecutors have also been examining whether those transactions were in the best interest of Mrs. Astor or if they were larcenous.

"They are also seeking to establish whether crimes were committed in the signing of an amendment to her will in March 2004 in which the possibility of forgery has been raised."

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