Elderly Senior’s Extravagant Gifts Spark Litigation

Manipulation or generosity? We likely will never know. This blog offers a look at Huguette Clark’s deathbed bequests, all of which were stunning large,

Are you planning your estate or perhaps caring for an elderly loved one who is planning his or her own? If yes, then you can learn some important lessons from Huguette Clark’s case, as recently reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In the article, titled “Copper heiress' huge gifts spotlighted in NY court,” Ms. Clark was cast as either an oddball or a thoughtful “eccentric.” Such was the description of one side to the litigation over her estate. The other side, however, painted her as a “poor, manipulated old woman.” In case you haven’t followed the case, Ms. Clark was a wealthy heiress to a copper fortune, and she died recently at the age of 109 after two decades of hospitalization.

Before dying, however, Ms. Clark gave extravagant gifts to her staff:

Her nurse was showered with almost $28 million in gifts, including three Manhattan apartments, two homes elsewhere and a $1.2 million Stradivarius violin. Her doctors' families received more than $3 million in presents. A night nurse received a salary plus money to cover her children's school tuition and to help buy two apartments.


Now, after her death, a court-appointed official has begun to demand the return of these gifts, valued at $37 million, to her $400 million estate. The basis for the demanded return is that the recipients received the gifts through manipulation. The case is ongoing.

When it comes to estate planning, however, old age and wealth are a dangerous combination. Some wealthy seniors are generous by nature, but others kept the first nickel they earned. Regardless, expect extra scrutiny of any gift or inheritance from a wealthy senior when the object of such bounty is not someone with a family tie or a long relational history.

Reference: The San Francisco Chronicle (June 17, 2012) “Copper heiress' huge gifts spotlighted in NY court


Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment


We have a LOT more where that came from!

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now https://jsfiddle.net/7h5246b8/

Request a free consultation

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.