The Case of Huguette Clark: Highlighting the Need for a Reputable Accountant

by | Jan 18, 2012 | Business

The recent death in Manhattan of Huguette Clark Glower, daughter of the late Senator William A. Clark, and the subsequent battle over the $400 million she left behind, has highlighted the need for hiring a reputable accountant in all financial matters.

Huguette Clark came by her money through her father, Montana Senator William A Clark, a railroad and copper mining magnate credited with founding Las Vegas, Nevada which is now located in Clark County, named for the late Senator.

The 104-year-old Huguette Clark passed away in May and is purported to have left behind two different wills each signed within a month of the other. One will leaves the childless heiress’s fortune to 21 relatives, but another gives the bulk of her fortune to establish an art museum in California while leaving a healthy sum for her nurse, her attorney, and her accountant. The family is now questioning how it is that a reclusive Clark could have spent $1 million a month for the last 22 years through her attorney and accountant and how they both came to be listed as beneficiaries in a second will that bears no resemblance to the first. The lawyer and accountant, executors of the estate, claim that they were simply following out the wishes of Clark and that they are completely innocent of any wrongdoing.

The accusation has been made that her lawyer and accountant coerced Clark into signing the second will in order to obtain a portion of the inheritance. Given the excessive amounts of money involved, the situation has now drawn the attention of the Manhattan district attorney and the New York attorney general.

It remains to be seen who will prevail in this case where $400 million hangs in the balance. But, the situation does point to the need to develop a relationship of trust and confidence with an accountant. Most people do not have $400 million dollars to worry about, but they will be sharing sensitive information regarding finances with another human being, so it is essential that the accountant be trustworthy and reputable.

One way to help ensure the integrity of an accountant is to inquire as to any licenses or professional associations that the accountant holds. If the accountant provides a license number, be sure to check that out with the state. Also, if the accountant is associated with a firm that provides tax advice or financial planning services, this is a good indication that background checks and verification of credentials has been performed ahead of time so that customers can rest assured that they are dealing with a reputable and honest individual.

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