Tom Clancy’s will heading to court

Published 18 Sep 2014

Authors may get to write storylines about courthouse dramas, but it appears that Tom Clancy is going to miss one play out within his own family.

The multi-award winning author died last year, giving the large majority of his $83 million estate to his wife. However, Alexandra Clancy has begun to contest the will in court over where the state and federal estate taxes should lie.

Mr Clancy’s estate includes a 12 per cent share of the Major League Baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles that is valued at $65 million. He also owned a low mileage World War II tank and other military equipment such as guns and vehicles.

Mrs Clancy is the sole and main beneficiary of two-thirds of the estate, with the other part willed to Mr Clancy’s four children from a previous marriage. It is important to note the couple had a daughter together as well.

The widow claims the $16 million in taxes should be placed on whose part of the estate, rather than the family trust where Mr Clancy’s executor concluded it should go. Mrs Clancy is the primary beneficiary of the family trust and would be subject to pay the taxes should the case stand.

In court, her lawyers claimed that his situation is not what Mr Clancy would have wanted and the result of the will should be overturned.

According to court documents, Mr Clancy changed his will in July 2013, three months before his death, to make sure the family trust would be part of the marital deduction. This would mean her personal share would not have to pay tax and the children’s part would be subject to the entire amount.

However, a lawyer for the four Clancy children questioned in court the legality of their step-mother’s tax claim and described the lawyers involved with the will creation as “very fine”.

While this entire case could be down to a mistake, Mr Clancy’s executor did not want to comment on the case which is adjourned until October 17.

Contesting wills in NSW

Will cases such as the Clancy estate are very complex are required all parties to seek legal assistance. However, this example does highlight some things to keep in mind for those in New South Wales.

  • For large estates, bring all parties together to discussions the ramifications after the death
  • Have tax information up-to-date and included as part of your estate planning.

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