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Posted at 11:00 PM ET, 01/12/2011

Smith Bagley's family involved in court dispute over tobacco heir's will

By The Reliable Source

Smith Bagley. (Family photo)

A year after his death, the socially prominent family of tobacco heir and Democratic fundraiser Smith Bagley have been wrangling over his substantial estate.

In a suit filed last summer in D.C. Superior Court, Bagley's daughter Nicole, 40, claimed that her father was in "declining" mental health when he crafted his 2008 will and under the "false belief his business was in dire financial straits." She argued that an earlier will her father signed in 2004 should be honored instead.

Though the case is scheduled on a court docket to go to mediation next fall, Smith Bagley's widow Elizabeth, a former ambassador to Portugal and Clinton confidante, told us Wednesday the family is in the final stage of working out a settlement -- and that the legal complications are not a sign of serious family discord. "We have always maintained an amicable relationship."

She declined to say how much money is at stake. Presumably a lot: Smith Bagley, who died last January at age 74 after a stroke, was a grandson of R. J. Reynolds, founder of the North Carolina tobacco company. An early supporter of Jimmy Carter, he served as national finance vice chairman for the Democratic National Committee. Nicole is one of three adult siblings from Smith Bagley's second marriage to Vicki Bagley; her sister, Nancy, is editor-in-chief of Washington Life magazine. Smith Bagley also had a son by a first marriage and two children with Elizabeth.

By The Reliable Source  | January 12, 2011; 11:00 PM ET
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