Rachel Lambert Mellon’s Will Was Carefully Written
Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) April 28, 2014 – Rachel Lambert Mellon’s will was carefully written to encompass all her wishes.
When Mellon died at the age of 103 on March 17 at the Upperville, Virginia estate that had been her principal residence for decades, the Old Dominion and the nation lost a great philanthropist and patron of the arts. And on March 26, when her will was filed in Virginia’s Fauquier County Circuit Court, the document provided some insights into the financial and estate-planning affairs of the late heiress.
Mrs. Mellon, who was also known as “Bunny,” was the eldest child of Gerard Barnes Lambert, who was president of the Gillette Safety Razor Company, and whose own father founded Lambert pharmaceuticals and invented Listerine. Her first husband was Stacy Barcroft Lloyd Jr., a businessman and horse breeder, and her second husband was Paul Mellon, the only son of Andrew Mellon, one of the world’s wealthiest financiers, industrialists and a treasury secretary to three U.S. presidents, as well as a former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain. Mr. Mellon died in 1999 at the age of 91.
Mrs. Mellon’s will bequeathed her fortune to several beneficiaries, including descendants and East Coast charities such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Upperville.
In addition, an employee who played a major role in the running of Mrs. Mellon’s seven households was granted lifetime occupancy of a farmhouse, and grandchildren were left cash, jewelry, real estate and the proceeds from a family trust. Mrs. Mellon also had a provision in her will authorizing the hiring of additional help, as needed, for the executor to collect, appraise, inventory and distribute her assets.
“A few key lessons can be learned from Mrs. Mellon’s will,” outlines Lisa McDevitt, a prominent estate planning attorney in Fairfax, Viginia. “One is that, with the help of an experienced estate-planning attorney, a will should be carefully crafted to account for all assets that the executor will be responsible for distributing.”
An earlier version of Mrs. Mellon’s will bequeathed $20 million, artwork and jewelry to her daughter Eliza Lloyd Moore, who predeceased Mrs. Mellon by six years. Indeed, Mrs. Mellon’s will, which was initially signed in 2003, was revised nine times through 2011.
“Another important lesson from the Mellon estate is that a will must be kept up to date and that revisions, or codicils, are often necessary to reflect changing circumstances,” McDevitt says.
Lisa Lane McDevitt
2155 Bonaventure Drive
Vienna, VA 22181