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Julie Garber

Huguette Clark Will Contest Ends Abruptly With Settlement

By September 30, 2013

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As jury selection was about to begin in the will contest surrounding the $300 million estate of heiress Huguette Clark, the parties rushed an 81-page settlement agreement to the judge, which was readily approved. The will contest stems from two completely conflicting wills signed by the heiress a mere six weeks apart.

The winners in the settlement are the 19 intestate heirs of Ms. Clark, who will receive $34.5 million free and clear of estate taxes, plus their attorneys' fees of $11.5 million will be paid by the estate instead of personally. This should help to reduce the estate tax bill since the fees can be deducted as an administration expense on IRS Form 706. Aside from the intestate heirs, the major winner in the settlement is the charitable arts foundation that will be created to maintain Ms. Clark's $85 million mansion, Bellosguardo, located in Santa Barbara, CA.

The major loser in the settlement is Ms. Clark's private duty nurse, Hadassah Peri, who was set to receive about $30 million from the estate before taxes. Instead, the nurse will receive nothing from the estate and will in fact pay it back $5 million. But you shouldn't feel sorry for Ms. Peri, who had received $31 million in lifetime gifts from Ms. Clark. So why would Ms. Peri agree to such a settlement? Because it will prevent the estate from seeking the return of more of those lifetime gifts.

To read the contents of the two conflicting wills, refer to the following:

For a history of the will contest, refer to the following:

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