Sunday, March 4, 2012

Doris Duke's Adopted (Adult) Daughter

The billionaire tobacco heiress Doris Duke has something in common with John Goodman, who made headlines recently for adopting his 42-year-old girlfriend. Both were very wealthy, and both adopted adults, but for very different reasons. Goodman, did it to try to avoid being hit with a huge civil suit payment for vehicular homicide.

Doris Duke, on the other hand was reportedly trying to replace her dead baby.

When Duke was 27 years old, she delivered a premature baby daughter who died just 24 hours after being born. The baby’s death profoundly affected Duke, and she even hired psychics to try to help her communicate with her lost child. It never worked. 
But in 1985, at the age of 73, Duke's belly dancing instructor introduced her another of her students, to 32-year-old Hare Krishna devotee Chandi Heffner 
Duke decided that Heffner was the reincarnation of her lost baby daughter. The two women started out as friends, but Duke began lavishing increasingly more extravagant gifts on Heffner, including a 290-acre horse ranch in Hawaii. 
In 1989, Duke formalized the odd relationship by legally adopting the 35-year-old Heffner.
However, by 1991, the relationship had soured. According to a documentary about Doris Duke's death and will challeneges: the butler did it! Six years before her death Doris hired Bernard Lafferty,  as her butler. He allegedly helped instill paranoia into Ms. Duke, having her cut herself from all contact with everyone but him. Months before her death, he had her change her will making him sole executor.
Duke tried to negate the adoption of Heffner. Some accounts say she succeeded. in any event, she disinherited her. Duke’s will specifically instructed that her former adopted daughter should not receive any inheritance:
“I am extremely troubled by the realization that Chandi Heffner may use my 1988 adoption of her (when she was 35 years old) to attempt to benefit financially under the terms of trusts created by my father. After giving the matter prolonged and serious consideration, I am convinced that I should not have adopted Chandi Heffner.
“I have come to the realization that her primary motive was financial gain. I believe that, like me, my father would not have wanted her to have benefitted under the trusts which he created, and similarly, I do not wish her to benefit from my estate.”
After suing Duke’s estate three times following Duke’s 1993 death, however, Heffner received a $65 million settlement.
The butler, Lafferty, was proven unfit as executor and removed. he died at 51 years of age after receiving a substantial inheritance from the Duke estate. But the bulk of Doris' money went to charities.

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