Some of you will remember the amazing story about the estate belonging the billionaire Hugette Clark.
The trial of the two estate handlers, a lawyer and an accountant, ended last December in a New York City court with the findings that the two defendants had mismanaged the whole affair. The judge suspended them both from any further dealings with Ms Clark’s estate.
They were guilty of committing fraud which left a huge tax bill of $90 million charged against the estate. Further charges are expected after the judge warned that this latest finding is the tip of an iceberg. The public administrator is now managing the estate. They are accused of not filing tax returns between 1997 and 2003 which resulted in unpaid taxes in excess of $40 million. In addition, the defendants charged Ms Clark large amounts of money for filing non-existent tax returns but they failed to inform her about unpaid tax and subsequent penalties.
Apparently, in 2005 Ms Clark signed two Wills made within six weeks of each other. In the first one her estate was to be distributed between her great nephews and nieces. The second Will reveals a dramatic change of heart as she leaves most her estate to her carer and setting up an Arts foundation. She also leaves $500,000 each to the lawyer and accountant.
It pays to chose your Executors wisely and carefully. Be wary of cowboys who offer to be Trustees because they see future income in distributing your estate and will charge well over the top for their work. Some, even not on as grander scale as the Hugette Clark case, will fleece you.