Tax Lessons from the Astor Trial

5 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2009 Last revised: 22 Sep 2009

Date Written: August 31, 2009


This article examines the changes that philanthropist Brooke Russell Astor made to her will – or, more accurately, the changes that Mrs. Astor purportedly made to her will – before her death in 2007. Anthony Marshall, the 85-year old son of Brooke Astor, and lawyer Francis X. Morrissey, who supervised the execution of a third codicil to her will, presently stand accused of more than 20 criminal counts including fraud and conspiracy. Ultimately a jury will decide whether the defendants duped and sole from Mrs. Astor. In the meantime, however, the prosecution and the press have presented as “evidence” of alleged wrongdoing nothing more than evidence that Mrs. Astor's lawyers recommended standard tax planning techniques. Those who seek an analysis of the particular criminal charges should look elsewhere. Fishers for gossipy commentary on the professional conduct of the lawyers who have testified in Astor case will be disappointed. Tax gurus, read on for a discussion of charitable remainder trusts, income in respect of a decedent, multi-generational philanthropy, fiduciary powers and estate tax deductions under IRC § 2053.

Keywords: estate tax, gift tax, deduction, Astor, will, trust, estate, 2053, charitable remainder trust, IRD, fiduciary, Marshall, Morrissey

JEL Classification: K34

Suggested Citation

Crawford, Bridget J., Tax Lessons from the Astor Trial (August 31, 2009). Tax Notes, Vol. 166, No. 9, 2009. Available at SSRN:

Bridget J. Crawford (Contact Author)

Pace University School of Law ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

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