Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 33 years.

The woman convinced party-boy Proskauer partner Harry Goldsmith to marry her as he lay dying of pancreatic cancer – then brought a team of lawyers to his deathbed to rewrite his will, spurned spouse Debra Karlstein claims in a Manhattan Surrogate’s Court lawsuit.

If there ever was a real-life tale of a wicked stepmother, this could be it.

As I have noted before, whenever someone gets remarried and changes his estate plan to favor his new wife, there can be bitter feelings between the new wife, the old wife and the children. This is especially true if the new marriage took place while the deceased had cancer and the estate plan was changed in the hospital.

Such is the allegation regarding the estate of Harry Goldsmith, as recounted in a New York Postarticle titled New gal ‘stole’ kids $1.5M inheritance: ex.”

Goldsmith was a prominent trial attorney in New York. In 2010, he divorced his wife with whom he had three children. He started dating another woman in 2012.

Goldsmith was then diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and married the woman he was dating. Three months later, while Goldsmith was in the hospital, his ex-wife alleges that the new wife brought lawyers to the hospital to rewrite Goldsmith’s estate plan in a way that favored herself and effectively deprived his own children of their rightful inheritance.

Whether or not the allegations turn out to be true, this case highlights that even attorneys can make legal mistakes.

If Goldsmith wanted to rewrite his estate plan, he should have done so immediately after getting remarried. This was especially true as he was diagnosed with a potentially terminal disease and did not have time to wait.

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