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Sen. Dianne Feinstein claims 'financial elder abuse' in lawsuit over husband’s estate

In a lawsuit filed on the 90-year-old senator's behalf, her daughter alleges the trustees of Feinstein's late husband's estate have failed to pay the millions she's due.
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is suing the trustees of a fund set up by her late husband, accusing them of committing "financial elder abuse" by refusing to pay the millions of dollars she's due.

The suit was filed in San Francisco Superior Court last week by Feinstein’s daughter, Katherine Feinstein, who was given “a limited durable power of attorney” over her mother's affairs in July.

Feinstein, 90, the oldest member of the Senate and the longest-serving female senator in U.S. history, has been beset by health problems in recent years. She announced in February that she would not seek re-election next year.

The suit, which was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, alleges the trustees of a marital trust established by Feinstein's late husband Richard Blum have failed to fund the $5 million trust and make a required $1.5 million annual payment to reimburse her for her medical expenses as Blum intended and to provide an accounting of estate funds.

“Although Blum died more than a year and one-half ago, the Trustees have still neither funded the Marital Trust nor made any of the required income distributions to Senator Feinstein,” the suit says.

Blum was a financier who died last year at age 86. The New York Times reported his net worth was estimated at over $1 billion, although his friends later told the paper that his finances, which included hotel holdings, took a major hit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The suit says the trustees told Feinstein in March "that Blum’s estate lacked liquidity, and had a large estate tax liability." It also says the trustees sold Blum's interest in a hotel in Berkeley, California, in May, reportedly for $163 million, but alleges they never explained why they didn't use any of those proceeds to fund Feinstein's marital trust.

"Feinstein and Blum married in San Francisco on January 20, 1980 and lived together as husband and wife for over forty-two years, until Blum’s death on February 27, 2022," the suit notes. Both had children from previous marriages — Feinstein's daughter, Katherine, 66, and Blum's three daughters, Annette, 62, Heidi, 59, and Eileen, 55.

Feinstein's suit alleges the trustees are stalling the payments to help Blum's children, noting that upon “Feinstein’s death, the Marital Trust’s assets pass to trusts for the benefit of Blum’s three daughters.”

"The Trustees’ inaction shows that they intend to benefit Richard Blum’s daughters, who stand to inherit millions of dollars that should go to Senator Feinstein if the Trustees never make the required distributions to her," the filing says.

The suit seeks a court order funding the trust and removing the trustees, as well as monetary damages.

“The Court should suspend and remove the Trustees for breaching their fiduciary duties, including their duties of loyalty and impartiality,” it says.

A spokesman for Feinstein, Adam Russell, said: “This is a private legal matter. Senator Feinstein and her office won’t have any comment.”

A lawyer for the trustees, Steven Braccini, said in a statement Wednesday that the trustees “have acted ethically and appropriately at all times; the same cannot be said for Katherine Feinstein. This filing is unconscionable.”

“The trustees have always respected Senator Feinstein and always will. But this has nothing to do with her needs and everything to do with her daughter’s avarice,” Braccini said.

An attorney for Katherine Feinstein, a former Superior Court judge who now sits on the city's Fire Commission, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.