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
- On Healthcare Decisions Day, consider creating an advance directive
April 16 marks the seventh annual Healthcare Decisions Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia. On that day, related events will raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions concerning end-of-life care and for medical issues in circumstances when patients are not able to speak for themselves. Accordingly, the occasion also encourages […]
- Prenuptial agreements can help couples protect separate assets
Asset preservation has become an increasingly important factor in marriage as well as estate planning, particularly as divorce and blended families become more common realities in the United States. The rising popularity of prenuptial agreements is a notable reflection of the changing matrimonial landscape in this country. In an October 2013 survey of 1,600 members […]
- When filing for a divorce, finding fault is not always necessary
If there was ever an appropriate circumstance, divorce proceedings would seem a prime candidate for an exercise in finger-pointing. However, legally speaking, there are situations in which spouses parting ways should seek what is known as a no-fault divorce. Traditionally, some sort of misconduct has formed the grounds for a divorce. But modern divorce laws […]
- As circumstances change, ‘Last Will and Testament’ may not be final word on an estate
“Last Will and Testament” is a popular title for the document in which a person, known as a testator, names one or more people to manage his or her estate and provides for the distribution of his or her property after death. But when a person’s life circumstances change, a “Last Will and Testament” may […]
- When a couple divorces, debts as well as property must be equitably divided
Marriage can be likened to a business contract, and when that contract is dissolved during a divorce the division of assets is an important and often contentious matter. But debts are an equally important matter to resolve when any contract, including marriage, terminates, as any debts a couple holds will also be allocated between the […]
- IRS offers holiday season tidings on tax exclusions estate planners should remember
The holiday season upon us, meaning that the remainder of the year will see a significant amount of purchasing and bestowing gifts. The spirit of giving is not lost upon the federal government, particularly regarding those gifts with significant valuations, or those bequeathed by an estate. Accordingly, the Internal Revenue Service has announced its gift […]