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Publishing Tycoon’s Estate Planning Surprise

McNair Dallas Law

Will or Trust

When the Scholastic Publishing Tycoon died suddenly his family was shocked they would not inherit his $1.2 billion company. 

When Publishing Tycoon Richard Robinson Jr., the Chairman and CEO of Scholastic Publishing Corp. died suddenly at the age of 84 in June, 2021, his family was shocked to learn that they would not inherit control of the $1.2 billion company.  Scholastic Corp. is widely known for elementary school book fairs and for publishing the US versions of the Harry Potter series.

The Wall Street Journal has reported this week that his 53.8% controlling stake in Scholastic Corp. was inherited instead by Iole Lucchese, Scholastic’s Chief Strategy Officer, and Robinson’s former long-term romantic partner.  According to his 2018 will, Robinson Jr. also left Ms. Lucchese, who he described as his “partner and closest friend”, all of his personal possessions.

These revelations stunned Mr. Robinson’s two adult sons and four siblings.  Younger son Maurice Robinson told the Wall Street Journal: “You might think from the will that he didn’t see his sons.  That’s not true.  For the last two years, I saw him multiple times a week.”  Older son John Benham Robinson stated that his father’s will had “served as salt in an open wound.”

Iole Lucchese joined Scholastic Corp. in Canada over 30 years ago.  As her career advanced she began working closely with Richard Robinson Jr., until she was promoted to Chief Strategy Officer.  Lucchese succeeded the Publishing Tycoon as Chair of the Board in July, one month after his passing.

Robinson’s ex-wife, Helen Benham told the Wall Street Journal that he had grown closer to his family during the pandemic spending “all of his time” away from work with her and their adult children.  His family wrote in his obituary that he’d “expressed a strong desire to work less and spend more time with his family.”

Some of Robinson’s family members are considering legal action to contest the will and/or the succession plan for Scholastic Corp.

What is the lesson we all can learn from this situation?  Communicate your estate plan with your family, so that their heartache at your passing is not compounded by surprise revelations at the will reading.

Source:  The Wall Street Journal 



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