NEW YORK — Broadway lyricist Alan J. Lerner left $1,000 to each of two friends for an evening's merriment to his memory, it was disclosed today, but the tax man could spoil the festivities.
Lerner's will was offered for probate in Manhattan surrogate court, disposing of a "more than $500,000" estate.
But attorney David Grossberg of New York said the estate may be insolvent because the federal government has begun tax lien proceedings against Lerner, claiming back taxes of $1.4 million.
Lerner, who lived in London for a number of years, died in New York on June 14 at the age of 67. His best known show was "My Fair Lady."
In addition to his tax debt, Lerner also died owing his ex-wife Micheline $72,000 in unpaid alimony, and owed Viking Penguin books $75,000 under a 1979 court order.
In his will, Lerner left Sydney Gruson, vice chairman of the New York Times, and Benjamin Wells, a school friend, each $1,000, stating: "The purpose of this modest remembrance is to defray the cost of one evening's merriment to be devoted to cheerful recollection of their departed friend."
In addition, Lerner directed that his remains be cremated and that there be no funeral or religious ceremony of any kind.
"If God does not know me by now," Lerner wrote, "no words by a stranger will help to introduce me."
Grossberg said accountants would be asked to determine if there are sufficient assets to carry out the provisions of Lerner's will.
In the will he also left his apartment in Picadilly Circus, London, to his widow Elizabeth, along with all his household effects plus the income for life from a trust fund made up of 55% of the assets after all expenses were paid, including the tax lien.
The remaining 45% was left in trust for the benefit of two daughters, a son and two granddaughters.