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Dispute over Napa estate erupts more than decade after death

A family argument over the fate of a $92 million estate wages on in Napa Superior Court. The dispute erupted between two daughters of a multi-millionaire landlord, businessman and vintner who amassed a considerable amount of wealth during his life. The daughters are in disagreement about what happened to the $92 million estate, which also included approximately $38 million intended to fund charitable works for disadvantaged youth.

The suit was filed in 2016, 10 years after the death of the vintner. One of the sisters filed suit to demand that the other sister present all of the accounting for money the sister controlled as the co-trustee of the man's estate.

The sister who filed suit believes that the other sister has not been adhering to the mandates of the trust. She believes that a number of financial decisions implemented by the other sister were improper and out of alignment with the estate's intentions. Mainly, she worries about $15 million that the sister invested into a real estate company, the investment of $2.4 million into a Santa Barbara condo, the purchase of a Land Rover and the price of construction for a polo pony stable. Numerous back-and-forth court filings have already passed and over 2,000 pages of court documents exist for the estate.

Family arguments over the management of family estates are not uncommon. Therefore, when constructing an estate in California, it's important for estate planners to consider who they are placing in charge of the money as trustee, whether that person is capable of managing the assets appropriately and what steps can be done to ensure that no family disagreements will erupt in the years and decades after one's passing.

Source: Napa Valley Register, "Wealthy Napa businessman's heirs seek answers about $92 million estate," Jennifer Huffman, Feb. 05, 2018

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