Wednesday, November 4, 2009

“Where There’s a Will, There’s a Relative”

By Shelly Banjo Posted: 02 Nov 2009
On a recent vacation in Ireland a woman told me, “Where there’s a will, there’s a relative.”

But the latest high-stakes inheritance dispute isn’t a fight between family members. Rather, the daughter of oil pioneer and cultural philanthropist Alfred C. Glassell Jr. is contesting her father’s most recent of nine wills, claiming lawyers forced him into shrinking her share of the estate to $1.6 million from $100 million and bequeathing it to charities such as Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Mary Flood writes in the Houston Chronicle.

If she wins the court case, Curry Glassell and her brother each would take some $100 million and land but if the jury finds she contested the will in bad faith she could lose the entire inheritance.

If squabbles weren’t enough, high-profile estate planners must also worry about will forgery.

Dow Jones Newswires reporter Arden Dale recently wrote about Anthony D. Marshall, the son of socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor, who was convicted this month of defrauding his mother and stealing millions of dollars from her in her dotage.

Francis X. Morrissey Jr., a lawyer who did estate planning for Marshall, was convicted of forging Astor’s signature on an amendment to her will.

The former FBI agent who testified for the defense in the months-long trial of Astor’s son Alan Robillard said charges of forgery are more common than proven cases of it. They often originate with an adult child who, feeling short-changed in a parent’s will, accuses a sibling of doctoring the document.

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