Clark Case May Be Subjected to Guardianship Oversight in New York

Update: MSNBC reports that New York City officials have begun welfare checks on the 104-year-old heiress and the Manhattan district attorney has launched a criminal investigation into the handling of her finances.

Where in the world is 104-year-old Huguette Clark? One only hopes that she has a world-class New York City estate lawyer who has her best interests at heart. Apparently, Ms. Clark has been confined to a hospital for many years.

She certainly has her choice of living accommodations, what with a $100 million Pacific Coast estate, a $24 million home in Connecticut that she apparently bought a half-century ago but never visited, and a $100 million apartment overlooking Central Park — rumored to be the largest residence on Fifth Avenue.

All are immaculately maintained and all have been unoccupied for decades. Clark has spent the last two decades in a hospital room — according to MSNBC.

With few family members — her father was in his 60s when she was born and was eligible for service in the Civil War — the lone heiress to a copper fortune is being looked after by an accountant with a criminal background and a 78-year-old attorney, MSNBC reported.

Clark has always been reclusive and fabulously wealthy — her father was a Senator from Montana at the turn of the century. She grew up in a 121-room mansion at 962 Fifth Avenue at 77th St.

It is unknown whether she has a living trust or other comprehensive estate planning. Elderly wealthy people are at risk of being victimized by fraud – particularly when no close relatives exist. Why she has spent more than 20 years in a hospital room has not come to light. Nor is it clear whether she is the subject of an Article 81 Guardianship Proceeding.

Such guardianship would permit a responsible adult to look after her finances. However, such a position of authority could be abused, despite court oversight. Since the story has come to light, more eyes are watching. The Manhattan District Attorney has started an investigation. Yet it has not been determined if Clark is under guardianship or if her vast estate is even subject to proper oversight.

Experienced New York City guardianship and probate attorneys have seen the best and worst of these types of situations. It is unusual to say the least to have as a client a 104-year-old eccentric woman who is fabulously wealthy who has spent two decades secluded in the hospital. We hope her caretakers come forward with a full accounting and that she is not victimized by fraud or abuse.

New York City Estate Attorney Jules Martin Haas handles all probate, Wills, estate planning, estate settlement, advanced directives and guardianship matters. If you or anyone you know has a question regarding these matter, please call me at (212) 355-2575 for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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