Power of Attorney Issues and Will Conflict – Choose and Prepare wisely

A settlement has been reached in the dispute over the estate of legendary New York socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor. The settlement gives $100 million to charity and cuts in half the amount going to her son, who was convicted of stealing from her.

The Westchester County Surrogate's Court approved the settlement, which ends a civil case between Astor's descendants and the charities she supported in her will. The case centered on whether Astor's assets should be distributed according to her most recent will, executed in 2002, or an earlier version, which gave more money to charity.

While the dispute was pending, Astor's son, Anthony Marshall, 85, was convicted of stealing from Astor as her capacity to make decisions deteriorated due to Alzheimer's disease. Astor died in 2007 at age 105. A New York City jury found Marshall guilty on 14 of the 16 counts against him, including persuading his mother to make changes to her will that greatly benefited him, and abusing his power of attorney by giving himself a $1 million retroactive raise. Marshall is currently out on bail and has appealed his conviction.  

The settlement is based on Astor's 2002 will, but several later codicils that would have given more money to Marshall and less to charity were ignored. The principal charities that are benefited are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and New York City's public schools. Under the settlement, Marshall will receive $14.5 million.

To alleviate issues with your will and trust please contact our office at 301 663 9230 or visit our elder care attorney website at David Wingate for help, advice and strategies.

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