Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Astor Trial Continues

Astor_brooke Mrs. Astor's former attorney, Henry Christensen III, has completed six days of testimony.

Here are some of the highlights from that testimony:

  • Christensen simultaneously represented Astor and her son Marshall.
  • From 1960 to 1970 Marshall was the sole heir of Astor's estate, and from 1970 to 1991 Marshall was a primary heir.
  • In 1992 Marshall married Charlene, whom Astor did not like.
  • In 1993 Marshall lost significant control of Astor's trust in Astor's will.
  • For a brief time in 2000, Astor considered including Marshall's son Phillip in her estate plan.
  • According to Christensen, changes Astor made between 2000 and 2003 were to appease her son's hounding requests.
  • Astor eventually fired Christensen in 2004, allegedly at Marshall's insistence.
  • Francis X. Morrissey, Jr., the estate planning lawyer Marshall subsequently hired for Astor, is currently on trial with Marshall for conspiring to take advantage of Astor.
  • Christensen testified that Astor became increasing emotionally dependent on Marshall, relying on him in her thought processes, but that ultimately she understood her actions and was trying to bring peace to her family. 

See Daniel Wise, Law Firm Partner Testifies He Fulfilled Duty of Loyalty to Brooke Astor, New York Law Journal, May 29, 2009; John Eligon, 31 Wills, 7 Amendments, 1 Astor Fortune, NY Times, June 2, 2009; John Eligon, Lawyer Says Astor Understood Her Actions, NY Times, June 3, 2009.

For prior postings on the Astor Estate, click here. 

Special thanks to Raymond Sheffeild (attorney, Sheffield Law Office, San Jose, CA) and Shane Ratigan (attorney, RitterHobson LLC, Salem, Oregon) for bringing these articles to my attention.


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