High Stakes Estate Litigation


The $300 million estate of a woman whose father helped build Las Vegas is proceeding to a trial in New York.  The Court will be asked whether either of the last two Wills signed by Huguette Clark is valid.

Ms. Clark’s “distant relatives” were the primary beneficiaries under her next-to-last Will.  However, they were excluded in the last Will, made some six weeks later.  The Court must consider whether Ms. Clark had the necessary capacity to sign the Wills (i.e. whether she has “testamentary capacity”) and whether she was unduly influenced in the gifts and changes that she made.

The main question for the Court to determine is whether the last Will accurately reflects the true wishes of the deceased, formed at a time when she was mentally capable of deciding who would  benefit from her estate.  In British Columbia, a case such as this would include evidence from the people who knew the deceased, the lawyer who prepared the Will, and possibly medical opinions as well.   The article is silent on the length of the trial and the number of witnesses. Given the size of the Estate, however, the stakes are high for the parties – perhaps a fitting end to a fortune originating in Las Vegas.