Legal Battle Over Art Collector’s $300 Million Estate

Posted on June 29th, 2011 No Comments

The widow of a Manhattan art dealer has filed a lawsuit against the executor of her late husband’s $300 million estate.

Accoridng to court documents, Clare Stone, the widow of ardent collector Allan Stone, has filed a lawsuit claiming the executor of his estate improperly bought an $8.5 million Connecticut house with Stone’s money. The lawsuit also claims the executor, Leila Wood-Smith, of moving $200 million of Stone’s art into her home without court approval.

Daughter Jessie Stone claims she visited Wood-Smith’s home in 2010 and was surprised to see some of her father’s collection on the walls.

According to the lawsuit, Wood-Smith allegedly received a fee of nearly $6 million while Stone’s widow has received “less than one percent per year of the value of the Marital Trust.”

Stone’s estate is valued at approximately $300 million. Portions of the estate have sold at two auctions. In May 2011, works by sculptor John Chamberlain sold at Sotheby’s for nearly $55 million. In 2009, 71 lots offered by Christie’s sold for $52.4 million.

If you need assistance protecting your estate and navigating the complex legal realm of trust law, please contact the Houston trust attorneys of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

Supreme Court Ends Long-Running Anna Nicole Smith Estate Battle

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 No Comments

The Supreme Court ruled against the heirs of Anna Nicole Smith Thursday, ending a long-running estate battle that has outlived all the main players.

The nation’s highest court denied the estate of Anna Nicole Smith’s attempt to capture some of the $1.6 billion estate left behind by her late billionaire husband. The court ruled that a bankruptcy court’s decision to give the now-deceased Playboy Playmate $475 million from the estate of Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall was decided incorrectly.

Marshall and Smith were wed in 1994, and he died the following year. Marshall’s will left his estate to his son, E. Pierce Marshall, and nothing to Smith. A California bankruptcy court later awarded Smith part of the estate, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal said that a bankruptcy court could not make a decision on an issue outside of bankruptcy law.

Smith’s estate appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which sided with Marshall.

If you need assistance with estate planning, please contact the Houston Estate Planning Attorneys of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

Gary Coleman’s Manager, Ex-Wife Battle Over Estate

Posted on June 6th, 2011 No Comments

Actor Gary Coleman’s estate remains tied-up in a legal dispute that has lasted almost a year.

The former child actor died on May 28, 2010. Coleman wrote a will in 2005 that left the bulk of his estate to his former manager Anna Gray. Coleman’s ex-wife Shannon Price, however, claims that she is entitled to Coleman’s estate because the actor made a handwritten amendment to his will naming Price as beneficiary.

The amendment is still in dispute. Lawyers are also debating whether Price should be considered Coleman’s common-law spouse. The couple divorced in August 2008, but continued living together.

If you need assistance with estate planning or litigation, please contact the Houston Probate Litigation Lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 182-362-2865.

Contested Wills: Ga. Court Sides with Millionaire’s Mistress

Posted on June 2nd, 2011 No Comments

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the girlfriend of a wealthy car dealer can inherit a large portion of his vast estate.

The state’s highest court voted 4-3 that the proceeds from the sale of a Florida condominium should go to Anne Melican. According to court documents, Melican wheeled Harvey Strother into his lawyer’s office shortly before Strother’s death in 2004 to overhaul his will. Strother guaranteed Melican about $6 million of his $37 million estate.

Strother left the bulk of his assets to his wife Betty and their children in his 1988 will. In December 2003, however, he signed over prime pieces of real estate to Melican, his mistress of 10 years. A lower court found that Melican shouldn’t receive any of the properties, as the will was changed around the time that Strother had been drinking about a gallon and a half of wine each day.

Melican’s attorney argued that she was protected by Florida law, as the will was signed in Florida, and Georgia’s court agreed.

If you need assistance with estate planning or help with a contested will, please contact the Houston contested will lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

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