Tuesday, June 19, 2012
As I have previously discussed, the Executor of the Estate of Huguette Clark petitioned a court to force those who received gifts from Ms. Clark to return those gifts. Now, the court has appointed an official to oversee this return. In total, the public administrator on this case wants $37 million in gifts returned to the heiress's estate.
What makes this difficult is the sheer number of the gifts that Ms. Clark gave to people that were close to her, and the fact that the gifts were made over the course of two decades. To determine which of these gifts are valid, the court will mostly likely have to determine the mental state and intention of Ms. Clark in each of these instances. On this note, there are two sides to Ms. Clark's mental state. The public administrator believes that Ms. Clark that was secluded and vulnerable to exploitation. The recipients of the gifts argue that Ms. Clark was a generous person who understood what she was doing.
On a different aspect of the same case, a fight is about to begin over what to do with the remainder of the estate. There are two wills that are being offered as the valid will. Ms. Clark apparently signed a will in April of 2005 that gave her entire fortune to charity and her private nurse. The previous will bequested her entire estate to be divided among her great-nephews and nieces.
Ms. Clark's attorney, Wallace Bock, and her accountant, Irving Kamsler, that handled Mr. Clark's Estate where suspended from overseeing the estate; however, the district attorney has not filed charges against either Bock or Kamsler. Both Bock and Kamsler deny any wrongdoing on their part, and both claim that they were acting in Ms. Clark's interest.
See Jennifer Peltz, Copper Heiress' Huge Gifts Spotlighted in NY Court, Associated Press, June 17, 2012.
Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.