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Estate Tax a "Debt of Honor" Clancy's Widow Won't Pay

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The late techno-thriller author Tom Clancy, who passed away in October of 2013, left behind not only a stack of best-selling action novels, but also an $86 million estate. But in the aftermath of Clancy's death came the taxes - a clear and present danger to the inheritors of the writer's fortune. The tax bill was a hefty $11.8 million, the sum of all fears for any family member who had to pick up the tab.

The question of who among surviving heirs would pay this debt of honor made its way to probate court in Baltimore. A veritable red storm arose between Alexandra Clancy, the author's second wife, and his four children from his first marriage. Two thirds of the Red October storyteller's 86 million estate was designated to Alexandra, while the children were assigned a $28.5 million trust. And without remorse, Judge Lewyn Scott Garrett ruled that Clancy's children were responsible for footing the bill, allowing his widow to escape the teeth of the tax tiger. And so Clancy's four kids have to drain 40% of their trust to pay the IRS, which leaves them substantially less money to play any multi-million patriot games.

This bear-and-dragon matchup in probate court may have seemingly called for a compromise settlement, with a portion of the taxes coming from Alexandra's estate, but Judge Garrett decided otherwise. In the tradition of Jack Ryan, he handed down the executive orders, ruling that the widow's tax-exempt marital trust aligned with Clancy's intentions that his wife be insulated from  revenue collection. So that means the four children will have to fork over nearly $12 million to the US government, employer of all the spies, intelligence analysts and counter-terror operatives that Clancy wrote about.

One point of interest is that much of Clancy's wealth was derived not so much from his novels, but from his partial ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. Estate filings also revealed he had a collection of firearms valued at $35,000, more than enough to arm a Rainbow Six commando unit, as well as a 1943 M4A1 Sherman tank, known as the Grizzly. Looks like the Grizzly will stay parked on the Clancy estate.

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