PAY DAY: Lawyers, it appears, are like bunny rabbits — they multiply. And with them come billable hours, which are piling up in the two-month-long trial of Brooke Astor’s son, Anthony Marshall, and his co-defendant, the estate lawyer Francis X. Morrissey Jr. Their collective defense team costs tens of thousands of dollars daily; there are three prosecutors, paid by taxpayers; the Metropolitan Museum of Art legal team has been present round-the-clock (gifts to the institution are involved), and then there is the parade of witnesses and estates lawyers taking the stand — each bringing their own attorneys to court.
Monday, trusts expert G. Warren Whitaker testified, and bills show he charged Astor $8,750 for a mere 17-and-a-half hours work — including his hour-long round-trip commutes from Westchester. Despite never having met the then-102-year-old grand dame, Whitaker drafted changes to her will, at Morrisey’s behest. “This represents my wish in order to allow my son to enjoy this property fully,” he wrote for Astor to sign.
This story first appeared in the June 16, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“‘She may not be able to sign [changes] forever,’” Whitaker testified that Morrissey told him. “There was concern that she would die.”
Whitaker recalled, “Marshall said he and his mother were not very close but in the last few years as he was caring for her daily, they became closer.” The changes grant Marshall access to about $60 million from his mother’s estate.