Each year, Disney theme parks and resorts host millions of visitors from all over the world. The corporation’s films and media services are wildly successful, as are its merchandise and travel divisions. With an estimated net worth of 130 billion dollars, the Disney enterprise has flourished. When Walt Disney passed away in 1966, he left a considerable inheritance to his family. Today, one of his grandchildren is struggling to gain access to his bequest. Here is more on Walt Disney’s grandson’s continuing fight for his inheritance.
Walt Disney’s Daughter’s Trust
In 1993, Walt Disney’s youngest daughter, Sharon Disney Lund, passed away at age 56. She was survived by three grown children, Brad, Michelle, and Victoria. These Disney grandchildren were named beneficiaries of a combined family trust valued at approximately $400 million in today’s value. Under its terms, each recipient was to be paid according to a schedule at ages 35, 40, and 45. They were also given significant portions of stock in the corporation. The trust also included a term that the trustees could withhold distributions if the beneficiaries did not show sufficient “maturity and financial ability to manage and utilize such funds in a prudent and responsible manner.” The application of this trust term by the trustees set off a chain of events that is still the subject of litigation in California today.
Bradford Lund’s Fight
For the past fifteen years, Walt Disney’s grandson, Bradford Lund, has been fighting for his inheritance. For many of these years, his struggle was with his own family members and the trustees. However, recently Lund encountered a new opponent—the California probate court. Lund, who has had to prove repeatedly that he does not have Down’s Syndrome, suffered a blow when Los Angeles Superior Court probate judge David Cowan appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL), without a hearing, to make financial and legal decisions on Lund’s his behalf. When commenting about his ruling from the bench, Judge Cowan stated: “Do I want to give 200 million dollars, effectively, to someone who may suffer, on some level, from Down syndrome? The answer is no.” The judge reportedly refused to retract this statement even after DNA evidence was presented, establishing that Lund does not have Down’s Syndrome.
In response to this ruling, Lund’s legal team has filed a petition for review by the California Supreme Court, alleging that Judge Cowan’s ruling violated his constitutional rights. His suit has received support from the Spectrum Institute, who has filed an amicus brief in support of the petition. Spectrum views the GAL’s appointment in this case as an infringement on Lund’s fundamental right to manage and direct his own litigation.
As the current dispute demonstrates, issues such as capacity and trust language can have long-term implications. The best way to avoid problems with your estate is to work with an experienced California estate planning attorney. You and your counsel can examine your situation and identify potential conflicts and develop potential solutions before they arise. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we understand the importance of estate planning and have the expertise to help you take a comprehensive look at your situation and prepare for the future. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. https://www.salvolaw.com/