The New York Daily News reported this weekend on more developments in an estate feud case that we have previously touched on. It is yet another testament to the lengths that some are willing to go when significant sums of money are involved. It is also a reminder of how even the closest family bonds can be destroyed by fights over an inheritance.
Mother & Son At Odds Generoso Pope was a highly successful publisher, creating the well-known tabloid still seen in many grocery store check out lines: The National Enquirer. Generoso Pope died many years ago, and the publishing business was sold for several hundred millions dollars. This represents a huge estate that was divided between Generoso’s surviving wife and son. Per the terms of the inheritance plan, the man’s wife, Louis Pope, received $200 million. The son, Paul Pope, received $20 million. Other siblings also received sizeable inheritances.
For most families, that amount of money would seems sufficient to live off for a lifetime. However, as so often happens with large estates, feuding came immediately, with accusations being hurled on both sides about wasteful spending and withholding of funds.
Over the ten years that the mother and son have been squabbling, multiple civil lawsuits have been filed. From accounts of the family discord, most of the problems stem from Paul’s extravagant lifestyle. He reportedly has spent the majority of his inheritance, and has already been given an additional $5 million from his mother. However, that has not stopped him from filing suit against his mother claiming that she is mismanaging her own inheritance which will result in him not receiving as much as he might when she passes away.
All of that culminated this weekend in the arrest of Paul Pope. While the exact charges are unclear, it may stem from an order of protection that Louis Pope previously sought over her son after his money demands became aggressive. In seeking the court order, the mother explained that her son “maliciously and repeatedly harassed (her) with cruel behavior (that) is causing (her) to suffer substantial emotional distress and to genuinely fear for her safety.” She went on to note that he lives “an excessive and extravagant lifestyle, but has never had meaningful employment.”
While inheritances worth hundreds of millions of dollars are unique–the issue of adult children with questionable financial management skill is not. New York families frequently have questions about how to best arrange an inheritance so that spendthrift children are not cut out but protected from blowing through wealth with poor managements skills. In our area, a NY estate planning attorney can provide tailored advice and explain the range of unique options available to account for your situation.