The fight over tobacco heiress Doris Duke's $1.5 billion estate ended with a judge approving a settlement that gives her butler $4.5 million and $500,000 a year for life.
As part of the agreement, 49-year-old butler Bernard Lafferty will resign as co-executor of the estate.Wednesday's settlement comes more than two years after Lafferty was accused of conspiring to kill his terminally ill employer with morphine. The circumstances of Duke's October 1993 death remain under investigation.
In addition to removing Lafferty, the agreement signed by Surrogate Judge Eve Preminger increases the estate's number of board trustees and halves the fee that each of the seven will receive to about $128,000 a year.
Duke, the only child of American Tobacco Co. founder James Buchanan Duke, died at age 80 in her Beverly Hills, Calif., home a few months after suffering a stroke.
Duke's April 1993 will left more than $1 billion to charity. She gave Lafferty $5 million outright, $500,000 a year for life and almost complete control over the rest of her estate. He designated U.S. Trust as co-executor.
Preminger removed both executors in May 1995.