Wealthy Socialite Brooke Astor Estate Finally Settled

Estate planning can be a complicated process, especially when age-related illnesses, such as memory loss develop.  Unfortunately, some will take advantage of a senior’s forgetfulness.  The fact that one of the wealthiest families in the U.S.A. could not succeed with the implementation of their estate plan speaks to the challenges of this.  So if you thought you were the only one with a family where everyone did not get along, well, even the very, very wealthy have the same challenges - and even when they are paying for top lawyers to establish solid legal documents.  Anything can be argued, it turns out.

Adult children want to inherit their money, in most cases.  It is important and that a trust or will is set-up well before any age-related illnesses develop.

Brooke Astor, the wealthiest socialite in New York City, did plan ahead for her death.  As she had actively raised money for many non-profit organizations as a philanthropist during her lifetime, she wanted some of her money to be left to these groups.  However, it turns out her son decided to have her sign a new will, after her memory loss had developed, which shifted some of this money to him.

After five years in limbo, the attorneys will now get the most generous share of this son’s inheritance.  But the cultural institutions, parks and schools will now receive the money that Ms. Astor had intended for them to receive. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will receive $20 million and the New York Public Library will receive $15 million and $30 million will go into a fund to improve education in New York.

The tabloids have had a field day covering this story, as those testifying in the court rooms gave many juicy tidbits, such as a maid who said the daughter-in-law was called “Ms. Piggy”.  She was the wife of Anthony Marshall, Ms. Astor’ son, who was the one who had her sign his new version of her will.  Now he will receive just $14.5 million and must give the majority of that to the attorneys who fought the case for him.  He was convicted on 14 charges, including grand larceny, related to an alleged scheme to loot his mother’s fortune in the final years of her life. Mrs. Astor died in 2007.

A senior himself now, at 88 years old, he has said he is happy the probate proceedings have been resolved.

Other groups to receive gifts include Rockefeller University, Central and Prospect parks, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Morgan Library and Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, Carnegie Hall and the Trust for Public Land's New York City playgrounds program.

New York University's School of Education is to receive $2 million and Historic Hudson Valley expects to get $1.2 million.

Drawings and other artwork valued at $4 million will go to the Metropolitan Museum, the Morgan Library and other charities.

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