It's hard to know who to believe more in the unfolding family dispute involving the estate of Senator Dianne Feinstein's late husband, Richard Blum. But what's clear is there's no love lost between Feinstein, her daughter from a previous marriage, and the senator's three stepdaughters.
Rich people fights! They can be amusing and/or depressing for those of us who will never be inheriting tens of millions of dollars. But suffice it to say that, at age 90, Senator Dianne Feinstein finds herself in the middle of an unpleasant legal battle that, if the trustees of her late husband's state are to be believed, has all been the product of her 66-year-old daughter's "avarice."
That battle heated up last week with a third legal complaint filed on Feinstein's behalf by daughter Katherine Feinstein, who is now listed as the "attorney-in-fact for Senator Dianne Feinstein." We heard in recent weeks that Feinstein had signed over her power of attorney to her daughter, but we now learn that that is a limited durable power of attorney allowing Katherine to act on her behalf in litigation matters.
As the Chronicle reports, following earlier lawsuits filed in June and July against the trustees of Blum's estate, the latest complaint alleges "financial elder abuse," breach of trust, and "wrongfully withholding distributions to which [Blum’s] Trust entitles her in bad faith and diverting assets that they should have used to fund" a trust in Feinstein's name.
Blum passed away in February 2022, and the trustees say that administration of the estate and dealing with estate taxes coming due in October has been an "exceptionally complex" process.
The filing also claims that the trustees have denied disbursements to Senator Feinstein, which she says she needs to cover medical expenses relating to her recent bout with shingles. The trustees have previously said they never denied any disbursement request, but the suit claims "The Trustees have failed to respond to any requests for disbursements, which is a de facto denial."
The co-trustees, Blum's former business associates Michael Klein and Marc Scholvinck, call the latest filing "unconscionable" in their own legal response. "The trustees have always respected Senator Feinstein and always will," they say. "But this has nothing to do with her needs and everything to do with her daughter’s avarice."
They further say that Senator Feinstein has been receiving $125,000 per quarter out of the trust, but the younger Feinstein and her mother appear to be seeking something more. When we first learned about the legal battle two months ago, it was centered on the sale of a beach house Feinstein and Blum bought together in Stinson Beach. Katherine Feinstein appears to want to sell the house quickly, and either Blum's daughters want to keep the house or there is some other reason for delaying the sale.
Klein claimed in a legal filing, per the Chronicle, that Katherine Feinstein's husband had been showing the home to realtors and allegedly hired a contractor to do some work on it several months ago "entirely without authorization."
So, it may all come down to this house and who benefits from its sale — or how quickly. Blum's three daughters, the Chronicle says, all stand to inherit "at least" $22 million apiece once the estate is sorted out, so no one is exactly hurting here. Also, Feinstein has independent wealth of her own, and no doubt had some very good insurance that covered a lot of her medical bills, so it's not clear what the urgency is all about.
But behind the scenes this has clearly been a bitter fight, whether Senator Feinstein is even fully aware of it or not. As we know, she hasn't exactly been on top of things in the Senate, and she may or may not be as concerned about all this as her daughter is.
Photo: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) listens during a confirmation hearing for Michael Casey and U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Timothy Haugh before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at Hart Senate Office Building on July 12, 2023 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Casey will become the next Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and Lt. Gen. Haugh will become the next Director of the National Security Agency if confirmed by the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)