Howard Hughes, Jr. (1905-1976) – Entrepreneur, Aerospace Engineer & Film Director
Howard Hughes was an American business magnate, investor, aviator, aerospace engineer, film maker, and philanthropist. While he was alive, he was one of the wealthiest people in the world. As a maverick film producer, Hughes gained prominence in Hollywood from the late 1920s, making big-budget and often controversial films. Hughes was one of the most influential aviators in history. He set multiple world air speed records, built the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 “Hercules” (better known as the “Spruce Goose”), and acquired and expanded Trans World Airlines, which later merged with American Airlines. Hughes is also remembered for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle in later life, caused in part by a worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder and chronic pain. His legacy is maintained through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Approximately three weeks after Hughes’ death, a handwritten will was found on the desk of an official of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. The so-called “Mormon Will” was eventually rejected by the Nevada court in June 1978 as a forgery. Hughes’ $2.5 billion estate was eventually split in 1983 among his 22 cousins, including William Lummis who serves as a trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hughes Aircraft was owned by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which sold it to General Motors in 1985 for $5.2 billion. Suits brought by the states of California and Texas claiming they were owed inheritance tax were both rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Howard Hughes died in 1976 at the age of 70, leaving behind an estate valued at $2.5 billion. Because he died without a Will, it took seven years to settle his estate at an undisclosed amount of money, before his 22 cousins could receive their death benefits.
Howard Hughes was a world famous entrepreneur, but even a successful businessman can fail to plan properly. If you want to minimize the consequences of failing to properly plan your estate, then contact The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. for a free initial consultation on estate planning, trust planning, and/or probate issues.