A settlement to end the squabble over the late heiress Huguette Clark’s will looks highly unlikely, according to New York City reporters. Jury selection for the trial is set to begin on Tuesday, barring the slim chance that the 60 attorneys, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and 19 of Clark’s relatives come to a last-minute compromise.
The debate revolves around the validity of Clark’s second will, which left her 23-acre, $100 million estate on East Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara to the Bellosguardo Art Foundation, a charity formed to turn the sprawling hilltop estate into a public art museum. Other beneficiaries include Clark’s multimillionaire private nurse, a doctor, a hospital, a goddaughter, her attorney, her accountant, and several other employees. That will specifically states that none of her money should go to her relatives, who are descended from her father’s first marriage, according to NBC News investigative reporter Bill Dedman. Dedman recently co-authored Empty Mansions which tells the in-depth story of the French-born Clark who was the daughter of famous copper-baron-turned-U.S.-politician William A. Clark.
Clark’s 19 distant relatives – most had never met the multimillionaire in her 104 years of life – claim that her second will was wrongly-influenced by those who worked for her. If their attorneys are able to get the judge to throw out this will, a previous will – signed six weeks prior by the childless Clark – would take effect. That will sets aside less money for her private nurse; the rest of her fortune would be divvied up among her relatives by default.
The trial is set to take place in Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan next week and is expected to last several weeks.