Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A judge Tuesday approved a settlement in which Kirk Kerkorian’s estate will give $8.5 million to a young woman who says she is the late billionaire’s biological daughter.

The ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maria Stratton came despite a request by 17-year-old Kira Kerkorian for a delay so she could hire her own lawyer when she turns 18 next week to help her decide whether she should put an end to her will contest.

Stratton said she believes the resolution is in the teen’s best interests.

Kerkorian told Stratton she did not necessarily object to the settlement, but wanted to have more information than what has been given her by her “guardian ad litem,” Michael Augustine. Stratton appointed Augustine to the position last September to advocate for the teen’s interests.

“I just feel I need to know for sure this is the best option for me,” Kerkorian said.

Augustine denied the teen’s assertion that he did not keep her fully informed about the settlement, saying he emailed her the terms. He also said that although the girl would like to have “another zero” at the end of the settlement amount, the accord is in her best interests.

“Would anybody argue that $8.5 million is not a good start in life?,” Augustine asked.

Kerkorian declined to say after the hearing whether she will hire a lawyer when she becomes an adult on March 9 to contest the settlement.

Augustine said he was pleased the settlement was approved. He filed the will contest petition on behalf of the teenager on Nov. 23. He maintained in his court papers that when the businessman’s will was created in July 2013, its beneficiaries “knew or should have known (Kirk Kerkorian’s) health was failing, that he was dependent on the persons surrounding him for his daily living needs and that he was highly susceptible to the influence of the persons on whom he depended.”

Augustine’s petition further alleged the will’s beneficiaries took advantage of the trust and confidence that the billionaire placed in them and “suggested and dictated the contents of the document, arranged for the document to be drafted, arranged for execution of the document and caused (Kirk Kerkorian) to execute the document.”

Kirk Kerkoran was obligated to provide $7 million to a trust created on Kira Kerkorian’s  behalf based on his marital settlement agreement with ex-wife Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, who is the teen’s mother. Under the will contest settlement, another $1.5 million will be distributed to the teen’s trust.

Bonder Kerkorian, a 50-year-old former professional tennis player, was married to the businessman for less than a month in 1999.

Kirk Kerkorian denied during his lifetime that he was Kira’s father, but grew fond of the girl and decided to provide for her anyway.

Stratton took under submission a separate motion by attorney Eric Rowen to hold off on dismissing the will contest petition, which requires a separate action beyond approving the settlement. Rowen represents another Kerkorian daughter, Linda Kerkorian Kemper, who wants to protect her right to intervene and carry on the will contest if she so desires.

In his court papers, Rowen states that like Kira Kerkorian, Kemper is excluded from the Kirk Kerkorian will.

“Indeed, the will provides for substantial gifts worth tens of millions of dollars for the decedent’s lawyers, but excludes those who are related to the decedent,” Rowen’s court papers state.

Lawyer Jill Basinger, on behalf of the Kerkorian estate, called the Kemper motion a “bootstrap on top of a bootstrap.” She said the request should have been brought months ago and that the time to have done so is now expired.

Kerkorian died last June 15 at age 98 from age-related causes. The son of poor Armenian immigrants, he developed key properties on the Las Vegas Strip, including the MGM and MGM Grand.

He also invested in and operated businesses in a number of industries, including airlines, automakers, Chrysler Corp., General Motors and film studios. He purchased MGM Studios three times, bought United Artists and tried to acquire Columbia Pictures.

—City News Service

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