Lawyers: Tentative settlement in fight over heiress's estate

Sept. 21, 2013 at 1:29 AM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Lawyers in the battle over the estate of Huguette Clark, the heiress who died in New York City in 2011, said Friday they have reached a tentative settlement.

To avoid trial, the many parties involved in the legal battle must agree to the settlement, The New York Times reported. The Surrogate's Court would have the final say.

Clark, who lived in a room at Beth Israel Medical Center for more than two decades before her death in 2011 at the age of 104, signed two wills in 2005. One left most of her $300 million estate to her family, while a second will disinherited her relatives and left most of the estate to a new arts foundation with bequests to her doctor and nurse, her lawyer and her accountant.

The relatives sued to set aside the second will, arguing the people around Clark exerted undue influence on her.

Under the tentative agreement, $34.5 million would be split among 20 relatives, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Clark's siblings, the Times said. The Bellsoguardo Foundation would be set up at Clark's California mansion and would get her doll collection, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington would get $10 million, Beth Israel $1 million and her doctor, Henry Singaman $100,000.

Clark was the daughter of William Andrews Clark, who was elected to the U.S. Senate from Montana after making a fortune in mining, railroads and banking. After a brief marriage, Clark lived quietly, and many of her relatives said in court papers they never met her.

After she was hospitalized for skin cancer, she stayed in Beth Israel, spending most of her time in a hospital room with the shades drawn.

Jury selection began Thursday for the trial but was suspended for further settlement talks.

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