Post-Death Clawback on “Inter-Vivos” Gifts to Charity and Others?

This is a very scary idea for fundraisers who work with older donors.

Can an estate engage in a clawback-like action to recover gifts made by an older donor who may or may not have been unduly influenced or maybe lacked mental capacity?  And, how far back in time could a court go towards reclaiming questionable gifts?

Take a look at this article (and read the court papers linked in it) and you will see that there is such a possibility!

 http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/23/11824035-staff-bled-44-million-in-gifts-from-heiress-huguette-clark-suit-says

The story is the latest twist from one of the strangest, even exciting (at least for us planned giving people) legal cases the fundraising and planned giving world will ever find.   If you haven’t read much about the Huguette Clark estate, search the web and even this blog and you will see a long line of stories.

But, this particular twist raises more than just what will happen to Ms. Clark’s estate.  It raises the possibility that unduly influenced giving (even if there may have only been an appearance of undue influence) may be subject to reclamation from the estate.

I have asked a New York Trusts and Estate Attorney to give me his take on this one but if you have any related experiences to share,  please  comment!

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