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Ending an estate battle prior to a total dissolution of assets

"In the ballpark" was the comment uttered by a now-deceased business tycoon some years back in response to an estimate of his net worth pegged at about $500 million.

That concurrence would be far off the mark today, though, if businessman Jeno Paulucci -- who died in 2011 at 93 years of age -- were still alive to voice it.

In fact, news accounts surrounding intense acrimony that has featured in recent years between heirs of Paulucci's estate and the trustees he appointed late in life to administer it cite a dramatic plunge in value in family-held assets. Reportedly, a stunning 37 lawsuits have been filed regarding estate quarrels.

Perhaps the litigation will now end, even if the acrimony remains. Recent court filings in Florida indicate that the two warring sides in the protracted estate litigation are finally willing to end legal hostilities and settle their material differences.

The fundamental reason why is clear, as noted in a recent media focus on the matter, which states that the estate's value "might be reduced to pennies if there is no end to the fighting."

Evidence to support that assertion is clear enough. The trustees have reportedly received about $3.6 million in fees to this point and have additionally expended more than $10 million contesting the myriad claims filed by the heirs.

Thus, the settlement seems most decidedly to be a late-innings attempt to acknowledge a stark reality and realize a truce before all the estate money is gone. Its terms provide that the heirs will pay each of the two trustees $1 million to relinquish their positions.

The settlement must be judicially approved before it can take legal effect.

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