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The Howard Hughes Estate

The impossible has happened. No, the federal government hasn’t done away with all death taxes. No, ice cream is not free. No, it’s more astounding than that. Howard Hughes, who died in 1976, will finally have his estate settled and closed. And it only took 34 years!

Howard Hughes, the eccentric aviator, engineer, and film producer, died on April 5, 1976, without even a Will, and as a consequence, he died “intestate,” meaning state law determined that his estate was divided among 11 cousins. However, the litigation over the Howard Hughes Estate dragged on for decades. The final estate item being settled is the $230 million payout to the estate beneficiaries for their interest in a Las Vegas residential project called Summerlin. The payout will come from General Growth Properties, Inc., a company in bankruptcy. That is the last asset of the Howard Hughes estate, and it will end up closing out the estate. The only hurdle left is the Bankruptcy Judge approving the settlement. (

Howard Hughes Estate Probate Debacle

For more in-depth information, please view the video.


The Howard Hughes estate has dragged on for decades, but it has been nothing if not colorful.

Some of the more interesting items associated with the Howard Hughes Estate were:

It was interesting enough back in law school for me to read that the Howard Hughes estate was still going on, how it was absolutely absurd that the estate had been going on for 17 years (then), and how the estate would continue for so long as there were assets that the probate attorneys and tax agencies could pilfer. Well, in 2010, more than 34 years after Howard Hughes died, it appears that having the sole assets being real estate involved in bankruptcy was enough for the lawyers and taxing agencies to let go of the estate.

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