Conchita has her own seven-bedroom, $8.3 million mansion on Miami Beach. She has a $3 million trust fund. A publicist. A four-season wardrobe. Diamond jewelry. A full-time staff. Weekly spa trips for manicures and pedicures. Her very own Escalade. What a pampered little puppy. Yes, Conchita is a dog – a tiny chihuahua who wears wigs and accompanied her owner, Miami heiress Gail Posner, everywhere. That is, until Ms. Posner passed away recently and left Conchita a lifestyle Ivana Trump would envy. Her staff has been paid millions to remain in the house rent-free and care for Conchita and two other dogs. Leona Helmsley, anyone? History may not repeat, but it often rhymes. You saw this coming: Ms. Posner’s son, Bret Carr, is contesting her will. He alleges that staff and aides drugged, tricked, and manipulated her to change her will, granting $10 million and $5 million to two bodyguards and $2 million to her personal trainer. In total, her staffers received $26 million of her estate. Her son received only $1 million. The drama is chronicled on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal. Our client Bruce Katzen, of law firm Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L., is representing Mr. Carr in the battle, and Mr. Katzen explains what malfeasance is suspected of Ms. Posner’s staffs. You’ll also learn about legal precedent in these types of cases. This is a story not to be missed!
Little Dog, Large Estate Chihuahua at Center of Fight Over Posner Heiress’s Will
by Mark Maremont and Leslie Scism
Her name is Conchita, a thin, spa-loving, diamond-draped heiress, and she’s at the center of one of America’s nastiest estate battles. She is also a dog—a chihuahua who was the favorite of the late Miami heiress Gail Posner, a daughter of the corporate takeover artist Victor Posner. When Ms. Posner died in March at age 67, Conchita and two other dogs inherited the right to live in her seven-bedroom, $8.3 million Miami Beach mansion, their comfort ensured by a $3 million trust fund.
The canines weren’t the only ones who benefited from Ms. Posner’s munificence. Seven of her bodyguards, housekeepers and other personal aides were left a total of $26 million under her will, and some also were allowed to live, rent-free, in the mansion to care for the dogs.
Now, in an attempt to revoke the will, Ms. Posner’s only living child, Bret Carr, has filed a lawsuit against a bevy of his mother’s former staff members and advisers alleging a dark intrigue. Household aides, he claims, drugged his sick mother with pain medications and conspired to steal her assets by inducing her to change her will and trust arrangements in 2008. Others, including his mother’s trust attorney, he alleges, used their influence to bend her wishes.
Mr. Carr, who was bequeathed a relatively paltry $1 million in his mother’s will, makes the claims in a lawsuit filed last week in probate court in Miami-Dade County. Among Mr. Carr’s claims is that the aides directed a “deeply disturbed” Ms. Posner to hire a publicist to promote Conchita as “one of the world’s most spoiled dogs”—complete with a four-season wardrobe, full-time staff and diamond jewelry. Mr. Carr’s lawyer, Bruce Katzen, says he believes the publicity campaign was part of a “ruse” to explain why a large trust fund was needed to care for the dogs.
It’s too early to predict the outcome of the case. But Ray Madoff, a Boston College law professor and co-author of an estate-planning guide, says wills that leave little or nothing to legitimate heirs but millions to caretakers are usually thrown out by courts, as likely to have been written with “undue influence” by the caretakers. The case has echoes of the late Leona Helmsley. In 2007, the New York real estate magnate left a $12 million trust fund to Trouble, her pet Maltese. A judge later cut that down to $2 million and directed the rest go to charity. Under the terms of Ms. Posner’s trust, the mansion is to be sold after her dogs die, and the proceeds donated to charity.