The fight over the multimillion-dollar estate of renowned plastic surgeon and burn treatment pioneer Richard Grossman, who died last March at age 81, is headed for trial this year amid new allegations against his widow. Previously, in a lawsuit filed in August, the doctor’s sons, Peter and Jeffrey, accused the doctor’s fourth wife, Elizabeth Grossman, of manipulating her ailing husband into leaving an inheritance believed to be worth tens of millions of dollars to her and nothing to his two children. Then, on February 10th, a new complaint against Elizabeth Grossman and her attorney, Peter Wakeman, alleged that the two interfered with a contract directing that Richard Grossman’s estimated $20-million Hidden Valley estate in Thousand Oaks, known as Brookfield Farms, go to his children and grandchildren. Instead, the lawsuit states, Elizabeth Grossman redirected the property to herself. The suit also accused the woman and her attorney of committing elder financial abuse and seeks an unspecified amount in damages.
A recent article in the Thousand Oaks (CA) Acorn, titled “Battle over Grossman estate intensifies,” describes the contentious fight over a noted physician’s estate between his wife and his children from a previous marriage. With all of the assets going to the wife, the children assert that the doctor had advanced dementia and wasn't able to make his own decisions.
The Grossman fortune was a result of his position as the founder of the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles. His medical center was one of the first to use a hyperbaric chamber to prevent infections in burn victims and speed burn recovery. Grossman retired from his practice in 2013 and died a year later. Now the lawyers for his children and his widow are disputing the doctor’s true intentions for his estate.
The children are claiming that the doctor and his wife had a prenuptial agreement when they married in 2000 that kept the property of each separate. The children are seeking to keep her from selling Grossman’s main asset, Brookfield Farms. They believe that the doctor wanted to keep the estate in his family. They want the estate to be distributed in trust for the benefit of the doctor’s grandchildren and one of his children suffering from a neurological condition who needs family support to care for him.
Whether you own a million-dollar farm or a modest home in the suburbs, avoid fights like the Grossmans’ and seek out the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure that your intentions are clear and carried out.
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Reference: Thousand Oaks (CA) Acorn (February 19, 2015) “Battle over Grossman estate intensifies”