Administering the estate of a recently deceased person can often involve a lot of paperwork, time and financial transactions. In many cases, it also involves a number of courtroom appearances, especially if the will or other aspects of the estate plan are challenged. If this happens, there can be a long and complicated process of investigating relationships, financial records and witness statements.
That was the case after copper heiress and millionaire Huguette Clark passed away. For years, Clark’s last will came under scrutiny and the battle could have continued if a settlement had not been reached. The settlement was reached last year, but concerns about whether her attorney and her accountant would face criminal charges lingered. Recently, it was reported that the criminal case has been closed without anyone facing charges.
It was a long and tedious process to investigate the relationship between Clark and the two men who were at the center of the estate dispute. Clark’s family members argued that the men took advantage of Clark’s age and vulnerability in order to collect millions of dollars in gifts from the wealthy woman. It was also argued that the men mismanaged her finances and influenced her heavily when she drew up the last version of her will.
However, after a lengthy and intensive investigation, it was confirmed that the men had not engaged in misconduct and there was no evidence to suggest that they manipulated Clark at any time. In fact, witness after witness described the elderly woman as coherent, cheerful and competent.
Although criminal charges were not filed, the entire situation likely turned out to be much different and more contentious than Clark had probably intended. Relatives left out of her will ultimately received a portion of her estate, and those who had been included in the heiress’ will did not receive all that Clark had stated they should receive.
This case highlights just how messy administering an estate can get when challenges come up. Even without the criminal accusations and intensive investigations, there is still much to be addressed, especially when there is a complex or significant estate at stake. Parties involved in any step of this process can be burdened by questions or responsibility, so it can be very helpful to speak with an attorney who can guide and assist people through estate administration issues.
Source: NBC News, “No Charges in Heiress Huguette Clark’s $300 Million Fortune,” Bill Dedman, April 24, 2014