Thursday, May 30, 2013

Huguette Clark: "Due Influence"?

Hospital Caring for an Heiress Pressed Her to Give Lavishly

Her face disfigured by cancer, Huguette Clark checked into Beth Israel hospital in 1991. She stayed 20 years.

Huguette had step-siblings from her father's first marriage. Her last will left them nothing, favoring charitable beneficiaries, notably Beth Israel.

The reclusive Huguette seems to have distanced herself from her family, and  she certainly must have become almost family to Beth Israel.

Could this be a case of due influence? Should it be settled by awarding the step-siblings a little and otherwise honoring the last will? What do you think?


Jim Gust said...

This is the case that makes me think liberals might have a point about the estate tax.

Jim Gust said...

I don't think you can fully honor the last will because, as I recall, it included outrageous bequests for her financial advisors that have already been voided.

The hospital didn't do anything wrong in seeking the donation, but at the same time, they were more than paid in full for the services they rendered. I wouldn't make them disgorge the proceeds from the painting. That was freely given, on the evidence. I'd like more detail on why two such different wills were drafted so close together in time, and what evidence there was of Clark's mental competence at the time.

The remote relatives seem undeserving, so why were they included in the second-to-last will? I'd like to know if the attorneys for those heirs are working for a percentage of the recovery or on straight billable hours.

On the other hand, I sympathize with the notion that there should be plenty of money here to satisfy everyone.

Hoover Jim said...

Why are the remote relatives undeserving? Had she died without any will ALL the estate would have gone to them. I've read repeatedly that HC was a financially astute woman who only made the two wills under pressure - perhaps the second to last will was to ensure that her relatives did indeed receive her estate.

Jim Gust said...

The remote relatives were remote in fact, not just in relation. From what I've read, they had no more contact with HC than I did. They are not undeserving in a legal sense, I agree that they would take everything after death taxes with intestate succession. But it's a bit odd that none of them ever made any attempt to reach out to HC, even as a social matter.

Also, HC's childlike obsession with dolls makes me wonder if she was ever truly financially competent. She had valuable estates in CA and CT that she never visited, let alone supervised. I know the rich are "different," but this is hard to understand.