Disputing a father's charitable legacy

Disputing a father's charitable legacy

Disputing a father’s charitable legacy

by | Inheritance

One of the largest ever bequests of land in South America is being disputed by the donee’s daughter.

US billionaire Doug Tompkins, one of the founders of the outdoor clothing brand The North Face, died in a kayaking accident in Chile in 2015, where he had lived for the preceding 20 years.

After leaving the corporate world behind, he became a passionate conservationist.  With his second wife, he bought huge swathes of land in southern Chile and Argentina to preserve it.  His widow is now donating 408,000 hectares of land to Chile for national parks to be created forming part of a network of 17 national parks in Patagonia covering an area the size of Switzerland.

Tompkins had been very vocal in life about his intentions for his legacy, which included disinheriting his 2 daughters.  He believed inheritances stunted children’s growth.

His youngest daughter is filing suit in Chile.  Summer Tompkins Walker has argued that the laws of Chile, which forbid the disinheritance of children, and not those of California, should govern the estate.  This may be because she lost her first attempt to overturn the philanthropic legacy in the Californian courts in September, though she has already filed an appeal.  Under Chilean law, Summer would be entitled to 12.5% of the wealth.

The original will leaves Doug’s fortune to his widow, Kris, who was entrusted with fulfilling their joint desire to use 100% of the money for charity. About $200 million was spent on the National Park program during Tompkins’ lifetime, and an estimated $100 million remains.

With suits in 2 countries, the legacy will become entangled in an international probate case that may run for years.  It will be a long time before anyone benefits.

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