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Inside the bitter tax battle over the estate of Tom Clancy

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2015 | Probate

Ask any fan of spy-based or military-themed writing to name some of the genre’s greatest authors and there is a very good chance that Tom Clancy’s name will be included in the discussion.

Indeed, the author, who passed away in 2013 at the age of 66, saw his novels like “Clear and Present Danger” and “Patriot Games” not only sell millions of copies, but also go on to become part of a blockbuster film franchise.

What fans of the late author’s work may not realize, however, is that his four adult children from a previous marriage and his widow with whom he had one child have been locked in a bitter legal dispute in Maryland over who should cover the taxes on his $86 million estate.

What exactly is the argument between the two sides?

According to court documents, the four adult children argue that the estate taxes should essentially be split 50-50, such that each side would pay $7.85 million with their share coming out of a $28.5 million trust Clancy set up exclusively for them, and his widow’s share coming out of the family trust of which she is the primary beneficiary.

For her part, Clancy’s widow argues that the tax bill for the estate should be covered solely by the children’s trust at a cost of $11.8 million.

Has a decision been handed down?

The probate judge actually ruled in favor of Clancy’s widow late last month, finding that the language used in the late author’s will clearly outlined his intention that no share of his wife’s $57.5 million share of the estate — which consists of the aforementioned family trust and a separate tax-exempt marital trust — should be subject to taxation.  

Are Clancy’s children planning an appeal?

It remains unclear whether Clancy’s children will appeal the decision. However, given that it will result in them having to pay nearly $4 million more in estate taxes, there is a very good chance of this occurring.

Stay tuned for updates.

If you have any questions or concerns related to estate administration or probate litigation, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.


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