Million-Dollar Will Challenged by Husband on Facebook

Melva Bucksbaum ScanlanThe monumental battle over the $100 million-plus estate of art collector Melva Bucksbaum is now being broadcast in a family war of words on Facebook. Really??

This battle began when Melva Bucksbaum Scanlan, a former trustee of the Whitney Museum, died at 82 last year. Her husband Raymond Learsy—a trader, developer, and fellow Whitney board member—challenged her will and claims he's entitled to half her fortune, which is worth more than $100 million. 

The action infuriated Melva's adult children, Gene and Glenn Bucksbaum and Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan. Glenn says that Learsy schemed to seize the family millions. He wrote on his public Facebook page, "Raymond Learsy…This name should be known. Full definition of cad. 1: An omnibus conductor 2: a man who acts with deliberate disregard for another's feelings or rights."

Learsy's lawyer, Hugh J. Freund, said of the real estate, "It was Ray's own personal estate planning and has nothing to do with Melva's estate. Glenn [is] going out of his way to cause a problem, where everyone else in his family is being constructive to resolve this issue."

Learsy was left about $10 million in trust in Melva's will. He also was to receive a $25 million home, but now he claims he's entitled to half of her fortune, which includes a Tribeca loft, homes in Connecticut and Aspen, and a valuable art collection.

Melva's New York friends are "appalled" that Learsy is planning a memorial for her in April while contesting the will. One friend said, "It's distasteful. He's acting like the grieving husband around New York while challenging her will in Aspen." Bucksbaum's children's lawyer, William D. Zabel, added, "I stand by my prior statement that he [Learsy] is a colossal cad."

Once again, the moral of this story is not how the rich and famous live but what lessons we can learn from their all-to-public family scrabbles.  As my clients already know, a living trust is a confidential family document that is all but impossible to contest unless the Trustmaker had no capacity to create a trust in the first place; unlikely given the time and effort we take to ensure that the language of your trust will best suit you and your loved ones. Why not call us to schedule your complimentary consultation today?

Reference: The New York Post Page Six (February 29, 2016) "Melva Bucksbaum's $100M estate battle rages on Facebook"


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