Howard Hughes' estate--current status

In “More of the Straight Dope” Cecil Adams (1988) said that, while the staes involed, CA and TX, have settled with Hughes’ heirs and assigns, the IRS had not yet settled. How about now? What’s the Straight Dope now after eleven years? This matter should have been resolved by now.

It’s no surprise the OP never got a response to this question—at the time it was posted, the matter had not been resolved, and wouldn’t be for another eleven years. In fact, Howard Hughes’s estate was not settled until 2010, some 34 years after the man’s death.

The disposal of the estate was occasionally covered in Wall Street Journal and other newspapers of record. According to the most recent article I could find, about a thousand people, including two hundred of Hughes’s distant relatives, were collectively awarded about $1.5 billion from the estate. The last remaining asset, the Summerlin residential development, was settled in 2010 with a $230 million payout to the estate beneficiaries.

The IRS certainly got a large chunk of the estate (I’ve seen unsourced claims of 60%), but state tax collectors were also fighting for a share. Texas Attorney General John Hill devoted an entire chapter to his litigation of the Howard Hughes estate tax in his 2008 autobiography John Hill for the State of Texas: My Years as Attorney General. I’m sure it makes for gripping reading. :wink:

Congratulations, psychonaut. You just set the record for the longest time between OP and answer in GQ. Possibly never to be broken.

ETA: I thought federal estate tax was 50% for large estates.

He most likely had unpaid income taxes as well as whatever the estate tax was. I don’t know what the estate tax rate was when he died though, it might have been higher or lower than now.

I see it as accumulating good karma. I’ve got plenty of unanswered questions of my own here in GQ—maybe one day, seventeen years from now, someone will finally post an answer.

I hate myself for asking - do we have a list of unanswered GQ questions?

That is impressive especially considering the OP is still around as far as I know. I sent him a PM to make sure he sees the (very good) response to this long-lost question.

I still am, all right. This matter seems to have been hanging fire ever since the entry appeared in the second (yellow) Straight Dope book.

Impressive answer; thanks.

I was thinking much the same thing since I re-read the biography on Hughes’ last years sometime last summer. I’d wondered what happened to Summa Corporation. It’s been sold and resold, renamed and re-renamed, and now operates master-planned communities.

I don’t think so, but I wish we did. On each forum index, you can sort the list by the number of replies, but as far as I can tell that applies only to the current page.