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In 2005, Huguette, who was then about 98 years old, executed two wills. The first, done in March, left her estate to relatives—grand-nieces and nephews, descendants of Huguette’s half-sister. Then, six weeks later, she executed an entirely different will.

In this second will, she cut off the relatives entirely—explaining that she had never had much contact with them (which was true); she elected instead to leave the money to the “true objects” of her “bounty.” She had a lavish estate in Santa Barbara called “Bellosguardo”; she left this to a foundation for the arts. There were also gifts to her lawyer, her accountant, her doctor, her nurse, and the hospital itself. The lawyer was apparently the one who drafted the will, with some input from the accountant. The two men were also named executors; and trustees of the California foundation. The relatives, who smelled money lying just beyond their reach, went to court, trying to overturn the will that had disinherited them.