Probate forms filed in Orange County Superior Court last month with the last will and testament of Elizabeth Edwards estimate the total value of the estate left to her children at $1,496,000.
That figure might strike some as a little low, considering Edwards, who died Dec. 7 after a long struggle against cancer, was a best-selling author who lived in a 28,000-square-foot Chapel Hill home with an assessed 2010 tax value of $6.75 million.
Property records also show that two months before Edwards died she purchased a smaller home in Chapel Hill where she was to move this spring. Tax stamps on that deed, which lists her as the sole owner, indicate the sale price on the property was $1.2 million.
In the last year of her life, Edwards was estranged from for husband, former senator and two-time presidential candidate John Edwards, following his well-publicized extramarital affair. Her five-page will made no mention of him, appointing the eldest of her three children, Cate Edwards, as executor of her estate.
Edwards' children will benefit from the estate tax loophole created for 2010 when Congress failed to renew the legislation enabling the IRS to collect it. The estate tax was renewed for 2011, but a bill approved by Congress last month exempts the first $5 million of the decedent's net worth.
John Edwards' 2006 public financial disclosure report filed as part of his presidential campaign estimated the value of his personal fortune at something between $29.5 million and $62 million.
It is likely that Elizabeth Edwards had additional assets in a trust benefiting her children. The probate form filed with her will lists the Anania Edwards Trust, established in 1992, as a beneficiary of her estate. Anania was Edwards' maiden name.
Revocable trusts are generally used to avoid the probate process. Any assets held in the trust would pass directly to the beneficiaries without having to go through the court system.
Edwards Probate Form.pdf
Elizabeth Edwards Will.pdf