Walt Disney’s grandson has been involved in a lengthy legal battle over his inheritance
I recently found an interesting online story involving the estate of Walt Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966). Walt and his wife, Lillian Bounds had two children, a daughter named Diane, born in 1933, and an adopted daughter named Sharon, born in 1936. Sharon’s first marriage was to a man named Robert Brown. Sharon and Robert adopted a daughter named Victoria. Sharon and Robert divorced and Sharon subsequently married Bill Lund. They had twins named Brad Lund and Michelle Lund.
Sharon passed away in 1993 at the age of 56 after a battle with breast cancer. After Sharon’s death, Victoria aged 27, and Michelle and Brad aged 23, learned that their grandfather Walt had left the family a vast fortune. The total amount of the Disney estate was several hundreds of millions of dollars held in combined trusts. Sharon had appointed three trustees, two of which were her husband Bill and her sister Diane. The three grandchildren were to receive funds at the ages of 35, 40, and 45 equaling to about $20 million each every 5 years.
The trustees were empowered to withhold distributions if the beneficiaries did not have the “maturity and financial ability to manage and utilize” the funds in a prudent and responsible manner.
When Victoria turned 35, she received $20 million. She passed away a year later. Her share of the family fortune was added to the funds Brad and Michelle were to receive.
In 1997, Diane resigned from her position as trustee. She was apparently replaced by a financial adviser, Robert Miller. When Brad and Michelle turned 35, Michelle received her money, but Brad did not as Robert felt that he did not have financial maturity.
A lengthy trial followed in 2006 during which Brad was found to be incompetent.
Brad is presently in a battle with Judge over appointment of temporary guardian
The legal battle has continued since, and another online story outlines the latest developments.
A Los Angeles County Judge has recently appointed a guardian to make all of Brad’s legal decisions. Justice David Cowan made this appointment in part due to what appear to be concerns that Brad may have Down Syndrome. According to the story, Justice Cowan did this despite receiving DNA evidence that Brand did not have Down Syndrome. Justice Cowan remarked that he did not want to give $200 million dollars to someone who may suffer, on some level, from Down Syndrome.
As a result, Brad and his legal team have commenced federal civil rights litigation accusing Justice Cowan of making the appointment of the guardian without due process.
Furthermore, according to the stories above, Michelle has always received her shares of the funds despite having her own issues. As an example, Michelle allegedly had a history of drug addiction and suffered a brain aneurysm in 2009.
The Disney inheritance dispute is still before the Courts and resolution is likely many years away. While Brad is entitled to receive approximately $200 million, it is unclear what other interests he may be entitled to. As Disney is likely to continue producing films and other media well into the future, Brad’s share may increase significantly.
This will be a very interesting story to follow.
More on this story here.