Heinz Will, Estate Records Released After Newspapers' Challenge

By: (AP) John Heinz III's will and 10 other documents from his estate were released to the public Friday, nearly 14 years after the U.S. senator was killed in a plane accident and the records were sealed.

Attorneys for the Heinz estate had fought the efforts of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to have the documents unsealed. The newspapers had originally sought the records before the presidential election, in which the husband of Heinz' widow Teresa, Sen. John Kerry, was running for president.

"There are legitimate and important security and privacy concerns for the Heinz family, as [Allegheny County Judge Frank Lucchino] affirmed by limiting the documents being released today," Paul J. Bschorr, counsel to the executors of Heinz's estate said in a statement released Friday. "The fact is, the outdated probate records released today adds little of relevance to current debate."

The 11 documents include Heinz's will, some court forms completed by estate executors, a transcript of court hearings and a summary of the estate's assets and transactions. They had been sealed the day after the 52-year-old senator and six others died when a helicopter collided with an airplane carrying Heinz on April 4, 1991, in a Philadelphia suburb.

Lucchino deleted bank account and Social Security numbers and anything that specifically detailed the location of valuables, like artwork, still held by the estate. A line-by-line accounting of the estate also remains sealed.

Lucchino had ruled in March that the law favors opening the records and initially set Monday as the day they would become available. That was pushed back to Thursday to give attorneys three days to negotiate an agreement to keep the issue from being appealed, and, finally, to Friday, after the settlement was struck.


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