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Estate Litigation over the National Enquirer fortune

The biggest problem in Estate Planning has never been taxes.  It is the potential for Estate Litigation.  There are methods to plan to lessen it's likelihood but unlike Estate Taxes no real way of eliminating them completely (as many high net worth families do).  In the case of high net worth families methods to avoid litigation can be complex and involve a wide range of professionals, but some simple fixes can go a long way.  

Unfortunately, the case of the heirs of the National Enquirer fortune is not the first time where you see a public dispute between a mother and son.  This seems bizarre on its face (at least to non-one percenters), as you have a dispute by multi-millionaire that he is not getting even more millions of dollars that he is likely to get anyway as an heir to his mom. Paul Pope, the son, is accusing his mom of wasting too much money with private jets and lavish party.  Lois Pope, the mom, says the son keeps running out of the millions she has given him, and he keeps wanting more.  

Among the actions taken by the mom is a restraining order against her own son, who is allegedly "stalking" his own mom.  According to a published report, "Mr. Pope wrote an as-yet-unpublished book called 'Confessions of a Rich Kid from Hell.' He has three children, all by women who he is not married to. And he has been publicly accused of domestic abuse."

Paul does not appear to be helping his case too much.  However it does appear a desire for attention is evident here, and that a public dispute and a massive wasting of money would be inevitable if these heirs were left to their devices.  Planning tip: Don't.

For those who wish to avoid Estate Litigation at the Estate Planning stage, it may be a good idea to consider a discretionary dynasty trust with some instructions on how the assets should be spent.  Giving control of such a large fortune to family members will tend to cause family disputes.  

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Ahmed Shaikh, Attorney at Law
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