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Trustees overseeing tobacco fortune acting cautiously

Ohio residents would probably agree that handing over thousands of dollars to teenagers is a recipe for disaster. It appears the trustees overseeing Doris Duke's estate, the daughter of tobacco tycoon James Duke, are keeping this in mind.

Two 15-year-old twins, who are the children of Doris Duke's nephew, will reportedly be worth around $500 million by the time they are 21. However, in the meantime, trustees are being careful not to hand over too much money to the twins and their mother.

While the trustees are being cautious, some would argue that they may have gone too far. Recently, the twins were kicked out of school after trustees failed to pay their tuition. The issue appears to be resolved. However, it may not be the last dispute between the estate's trustees and the young heirs' mother.

The twins' mother reportedly asked for $55,000 to pay for a Halloween party and Christmas gifts for her children. Trustees, however, only handed over $7,500.

"If the trustees simply funded all requests it received, the children's trusts could be drained of assets long before the children ever reach the age of 21 years," officials with JPMorgan, the bank that administers the estate, said in court documents.

As we mentioned in our last post, executors and trustees have an important job, especially if they are responsible for a large estate. Trustees have a responsibility to act with the best interests of the beneficiaries in mind. When questions arise as to the conduct of a trustee, an experienced estate planning attorney may be able to offer assistance.

Source: New York Post, "Teenage heirs to Doris Duke fortune can't pay for tuition as they wait for millions," Julia Marsh and Leonard Green, Feb. 7, 2013

•· Our firm handles a variety of cases related to will contests and trust contests. To learn more, please visit our Ohio probate litigation page.

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