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Settlement Reached in Brooke Astor Estate, Millions to Charity

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on April 04, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

After five years battling it out before the probate courts, Brooke Astor's estate has finally been resolved, with a significant amount going to philanthropy.

The story of the estate of Brooke Astor is a complex one, involving allegations of elderly abuse, fraud and deceit, reports Thomson Reuters News & Insight.

But now, with millions going to charity, it seems as though the saga has come to a productive end.

A prominent New York socialite, Brooke Astor passed away in 2007 at the age of 105. The bitter battle raged on for years and brought to light several sordid details about Astor's family politics. Marshall was convicted in 2009 on grand larceny charges, falsifying business reports as well as several other charges. 

Marshall has power of attorney on his mother's estate and abused it to sell property. He and Francis X. Morrissey, Astor's former lawyer, were charged with forging her signature in the third codicil of her will. The amended will left the entire estate to Marshall, despite Astor's prior desire to give to charity. 

New York law requires the signature of two attesting witnesses. The presence of a interested witness, however, could stand to nullify any particular clause where that witness is a beneficiary of the estate. Furthermore, the fact that Astor was not of sound mind at the time the third codicil was allegedly signed would also be probative as evidence of undue influence.

The late fur heiress and widow of the son of John Jacob Astor, Brooke Astor was a fixture in the philanthropic scene in New York.

The settlement agreement, reached last Wednesday, cut Anthony Marshall's share in the estate to $14.5 million. A reported $12.3 million will be paid in restitution from the estate to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office for the prosecution of Marshall.

The proceeds of the estate will result in $20 million being distributed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, $15 million to the New York Public Library, and will create a $30 million fund designated to improve education in New York.

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