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Nevada estate planning can help avoid some litigation

Railroad baron William Clark made vast sums of money at the end of the 19th century. He left behind only one daughter when he died. That woman, Huguette Clark, died in 2011 at the age of 104. She did not have children but left estate planning documents. This and other factors may be part of what led to the probate litigation that is currently surrounding her estate.

Huguette Clark reportedly lived in a private room that cost $1,200 a day at the time of her death. While there, she was attended by a private physician. Now, both the physician and the hospital are named in a lawsuit that asserts that they took advantage of the elderly woman while she was in their care.

In fact, it is fairly common for people in Nevada and elsewhere to become concerned that the elderly are subject to undue influence. This is often the case when people begin to give gifts of property and cash to those around them. In some cases, as here, those gifts go not to relatives or organizations that are a part of estate planning documents but rather to relative strangers. In this case the hospital and doctor are said to have received millions of dollars in gifts, including a Manet painting.

Undue influence is a concern for many considering estate planning. To avoid this type of accusation, it can do well for people to discuss their estates with those who may expect to receive property as heirs or beneficiaries. This effort can pay off when people in Nevada are not surprised by the property left in an estate when a person dies. Though not required, it can save mourning relatives time and grief as estate planning documents are reviewed and their directions followed.

Source: KTVQ.com, Hospital that cared for copper heiress slapped with $105 million lawsuit, John Sherer, Nov. 21, 2013

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