Last year, I reported on the death of Hugette Clark, an eccentric copper mining heiress with an estate of hundreds of millions of dollars who died in May 2011 at 104 and no readily identifiable next of kin. I received inquiries from at least two ambitious folks who wanted to join the "I am Hugette Clark’s next of kin" derby but had no way of proving their claims. Somehow, I think that I am not the only lawyer in this club. Today, theNew York Post has published an update of the Clark estate’s progress (or lack of same) through the New York County Surrogate’s Court.
The Post’s article paints a strange and very sad picture of a virtually friendless, "poor little rich girl" who was obviously exploited by those around her and whose estate was in total disarray when she died. In her later years, there was no one to stop her from giving millions of dollars to caregivers. Even after it should have been clear that Ms. Clark was of dubious capacity, her advisors failed to have her mental condition reviewed. Of course, had they done so, her life would have been subject to the oversight of the Supreme Court’s Incompetency judge who would promptly have put the brakes on the gravy train.
I normally heap criticism on the Public Administrator who often tends to charge a disproportionate amount for handling relatively small estates. Here, however, it is the P A who is dealing with the questionable gifts of millions of dollars, valuable collections and real estate as well as stacks of unpaid bills and unpaid taxes.
We will continue to report on further developments to this strange story as we learn them.