Estate Planning and Settlement Conflict, Astor-style

The protracted criminal case involving the estate of socialite and philanthropist is nearing trial in New York City. Prosecuters say that her son and his lawyer conspired to defraud her by having her change her will when she was mentally incompetent to do so.

Of course it seems that the ultrarich lead different lives than everyone else.  But much of the difference in this case is only in terms of scale.  Her life had been grand and her son had plenty of money even before her decline and the changes to her will, whether or not they were executed properly.

This type of estate planning and settlement conflict, though, can happen in any family.  An elderly person is in some manner of mental and physical decline. Certain trusted people are expected to perform certain functions.  Change occurs.  Someone in the family smells a rat and then sounds the alarm.  Battle lines are drawn and sides chosen by the interested parties, both in and out of the family.

For this family, the conflict also involves criminal allegations, fortunately a rare occurrence in estate planning and settlement conflicts.  The dispute also involves millions of dollars, famous names, and lots of publicity.  But the sources of conflict are the same here as in most families in this painful situation.

Posted in Conflict Resolution in the News, Family Wealth Mediation, Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

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