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Husband and children fight over art collector’s sizeable estate

Many times careful estate planning by the testator can avoid squabbles between their designated heirs later on. Precise instructions on what benefits are to be awarded to a specific beneficiary through the use of a well-thought out and understandable will can render the testator’s final wishes apparent. However, this is not always the case and, recently, the heirs of one very famous art collector have now taken their estate battle to the courtroom.

Raymond Learsy, the husband of Melva Bucksbaum, has filed a legal notice stating that he is challenging his wife’s will. Bucksbaum, a well known art collector and vice chairman of the board of trustees for the famed Whitney Museum, died last year at the age of 82. Learsy believes that he is entitled to half of his wife’s fortune. Bucksbaum’s estate could be valued at over $100 million.

Bucksbaum’s will awarded Learsy $10 million along with a $30 million home. It is believed that Bucksbaum also gave Learsy $14 million in gifts over the course of their 15 year marriage. However, Learsy believes that he is entitled to much more of her estate, including several homes and a vast art collection that includes works by Terry Winters, Nan Goldin and Matisse.

Learsy is fighting with Bucksbaum’s three children, sons Gene and Glenn Bucksbaum and daughter Mary Bucksbaum Scanlon. Bucksbaum Scanlon is also the trustee of Melva’s estate.

Writing a carefully planned will is one way to prevent heirs from fighting over an estate. However, any Florida resident who is developing their will may want to speak to an estate planning attorney in order to discover techniques that may prevent beneficiaries from challenging a will.

Source: pagesix.com, “The battle over Melva Bucksbaum’s $100M estate,” Emily Smith, Jan. 26, 2016

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