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Liberace relatives lose estate fight

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- A judge refused to grant a portion of Liberace's multi-million dollar estate to four disinherited relatives who sought to challenge a will signed two weeks before the entertainer's AIDS-related death.

The three nephews and a niece appeared in probate court Friday to contest the will, but Judge Thomas Foley said the famed pianist had 'good reasons' for keeping them out of his will and rejected their claims.

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Liberace died at his Palm Springs, Calif., home Feb. 4 of complications from AIDS. He was 67.

The will, dated Jan. 22, 1987, placed Liberace's estate in a revokable living trust with the entertainer's Los Angeles lawyer Joel Strote as trustee and longtime accountant Frank DiBella, of Whittier, Calif., named to oversee the funds. Strote also is executor of the will.

The four relatives who protested the will are Ina, Lester, Harry, and Rudolph Liberace Jr., the children of his sister-in-law, Isabelle, and brother Rudy, who died two decades ago.

Las Vegas attorney George Rudiak told the court that the challenge was designed 'to blackmail the estate' by threatening adverse publicity unless the nephews and niece were included as beneficiaries.

'Liberace didn't even like these kids. He ultimately disinherited them,' Rudiak contended.

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Attorney Kenneth Kahn, representing the relatives, argued that Liberace was not of sound health and mind when he signed the will.

But Las Vegas attorney Richard Oshin, a specialist in probate and estate planning who said was hired by Strote in January to restructure the will, noted that the four relatives were also left out of previous wills.

'Prior to the final will there was a 1982 will and several codicils, all of the previous documents left out the children,' Oshins said.

A tearful Ina Mae Liberace said outside of court that she and her brothers were 'very close to Uncle Lee.' She said Liberace deeded his former house in North Hollywood to their mother but left nothing to them.

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