When Real Estate Law Overlaps With Estate Planning and Probate

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on November 21, 2013

Not often do we see issues with real estate law arise in such heavily fought legal battles in the courtroom. We apparently, however, saw it in a huge way over in New York as heiress Huguette Clark’s estate was up for determination, deliberating on who gets to own the property worth upwards of $300MM in value.

This is where real estate law enters the realm of estate planning. Who gets what? In this case, issues with family Clark Estatemembers and caretakers became the figurehead for this case, as we have a longtime nurse of the now deceased heiress to a copper mining and railroad fortune facing scrutiny along with a lawyer and accountant of Clark’s. They apparently received rather lucrative gifts according to one of her disputed wills. However, Clark had “charitable wishes” in mind, which her estate would fund dramatically. Hence the reason for this dispute in court.

Needless to say, the court determined that the lawyer and accountant would have to completely return their lucrative gifts. The nurse, however, only had to return a portion of her gift of $30MM — $6MM to be exact. Clark’s entire estate essentially went to arts charities and other distant relatives, with one arts foundation receiving approximately $100M, including the estimated $85MM estate in Santa Barbara, CA. Another nonprofit, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, actually received $10MM while the rest covered all 20 of Clark’s relatives and other legal fees.

This, undoubtedly, is proof that the care for the elderly would be held accountable. Fairness is key. When it comes to real estate law, that constantly bleeds over to other facets of law with emphasis on loyalty, truth and honor.

Previous post:

Next post: