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‘Tucker Carlson’s Mother Left Him $1 in Her Will’

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When Tucker Carlson's mother died, she left him $1 in her will.

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On June 29 2022, a claim that Tucker Carlson’s mother left him one dollar (USD$1) in her will as the entirety of his inheritance began circulating on Twitter:

That particular claim had appeared on Twitter at least once before, in 2020:

In all three instances, the claim about Tucker Carlson’s $1 willed inheritance appeared without any context or substantiating links. We initially located a passing mention of the claim in a 2019 Washington Post article, which would be inaccessible behind a paywall to many readers hoping to verify or debunk it:

[Carlson] does not drink or smoke, and Carlson announced in a surprise on-air celebration of his 50th birthday in May [2019], that he had recently stopped a 36-year habit of chewing Nicorette gum, which he did when he wasn’t chewing tobacco.

Born in San Francisco, Carlson attended elite private schools and Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. His parents divorced when he was a child, and his father, who ran Voice of America and later became the U.S. ambassador to the Seychelles, married an heiress to the Swanson fortune, who adopted Tucker and his brother. His birth mother, who passed away in 2011, left her two sons $1 each in her will. It’s a topic that Carlson doesn’t like to discuss.

It also popped up in a May 2022 Insider.com profile (“The Tucker Carlson origin story”) in the form of a partial mention, without reference to the amount of money Carlson’s mother purportedly left him:

Tucker’s four decades in Washington, and his transition from conservative magazine writer to right-wing television pundit, have been well documented. But less well known are his early years and how they shaped him: his bohemian artist mother, who abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will; the Rhode Island prep school where he met his future spouse; and his formation into a contrarian debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audience with his attention-getting tactics.

Tucker declined to participate in an interview with Insider. “Your level of interest in the boring details of my life is creepy as hell, and also pathetic,” he wrote. “You owe it to yourself and the country to do something useful with your talents. Please reassess.”

However, we located a much more solid source for the claim on CaseText.com, prefaced:

Estate of LISA McNEAR LOMBARDI VAUGHAN, Deceased. BRUCE BICKEL, as Personal Representative, etc., Petitioner and Appellant, v. BUCKLEY CARLSON et al., Objectors and Respondents.

Peter W. Beckman; McCormick, Barstow, Sheppard, Wayte & Carruth and Scott M. Reddie for Petitioner and Appellant. Klein, DeNatale, Goldner, Cooper, Rosenlieb & Kimball, Catherine E. Bennett, Nancy L. Oehler, Joseph D. Hughes and Kurt D. Van Sciver for Objectors and Respondents Buckley Carlson and Tucker Carlson. Gay Columbel, in pro. per., for Objector and Respondent.

A section titled “Facts” explained the cause of action underlying the court’s opinion. It indicated Carlson’s mother was initially believed to have died intestate, before a valid will was later discovered:

This litigation arises out of the Kern County probate proceeding for the estate of Lisa McNear Lombardi Vaughan. Lisa’s interest in the oil and gas royalties was distributed as though she died intestate — one-third to her husband Michael Vaughan and the remaining two-thirds split equally between her estranged sons from a prior marriage, respondents Tucker Carlson and Buckley Carlson (the Carlsons). After the order implementing that distribution was entered in 2013, Lisa’s will leaving everything to Michael was discovered. This appeal, though not pursued directly by Michael, is part of his attempt to obtain ownership of all the oil and gas royalties once paid to Lisa. The Carlsons oppose Michael’s efforts; they are respondents in this appeal.

Later under “Facts,” the sum of $1 left to Carlson and his brother appeared with respect to the content of his mother’s will:

Lisa met Michael Vaughan in the spring of 1987. Michael, like Lisa, was an artist. He was born in 1938. They were married in February 1989, had no children together, and maintained homes in Beaufort County, South Carolina and Cazac, France. In 1995, they prepared and executed substantially similar wills, each leaving all their assets to the other. Lisa’s will was a one-page handwritten document that stated: “I leave all of my earthly goods and possessions to my husband, Michael Erroll Vaughan. This includes but is not limited to; all of my shares of our jointly owned real estate, personal property, common stock, mutual fund shares, bank accounts, silver, paintings, jewelry and vehicles.” Codicil #1 appeared immediately after her signature and stated: “I leave my sons Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson and Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson one dollar each; $1.00 each.”

Viral tweets in late June 2022 asserted that Tucker Carlson’s mother (Lisa McNear Vaughn) left him $1 in her will, a claim often made without a linked citation. Public documents from a 2019 appeal indicated that Carlson’s mother was initially believed to have died without a will, but a valid will was later discovered. In that document, Vaughn left all of her assets to husband Michael Vaughn. A codicil to her will left Tucker Carlson and his brother a sum of $1 each — typically interpreted as an indication an individual was intentionally left (or “cut”) out of a decedent’s will.