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Huguette Clark estate settlement challenged

Back in September of last year, Fullerton media reported that a deal had finally been reached in a long-running dispute that involved an $85 million California mansion. The various sides in the dispute over copper heiress Huguette Clark's estate appeared to have compromised on how to divide the estimated $300 million she left behind.

Clark died at age 104 back in 2011 after spending much of her last two decades in hospitals rather than her luxurious mansions. Her death prompted challenges to her will by relatives (none of whom had seen her in decades), arguing that her nurse and accountant, among others, had defrauded her.

Now the nurse who worked for Clark for the 20 years the reclusive artist and heiress spent in New York hospitals, but was excluded from the compromise announced in 2013, has filed a legal claim against the estate.

The estate is countersuing, asking for the return of real estate valued at $385,000 and another $85,000 in gifts for the nurse's children's tuitions.

Clark had no children of her own. She was the daughter of a railroad and mining magnate who had also served as a U.S. Senator.

Following the settlement last September, a New York City public administrator challenged the agreement on behalf of the estate, claiming Clark's doctors and a hospital had allowed her to live in the medical facility so that they could extract money from the elderly millionaire.

The administrator's challenge claimed there had been no health-related reasons for Clark to spend two decades living in hospitals.

For those with considerable assets, reading of the claims and counterclaims serves as a cautionary tale. These kinds of public brawls can typically be avoided with careful estate planning done in conjunction with an attorney experienced in helping people share their assets with their heirs.

Source: ABA Journal, "Night nurse for reclusive heiress seeks pieces of $300 million estate," Mark Hansen, Jan. 10, 2014

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