On Labor Day 2009, a young woman named Michelle Lund was rushed to an Orange County, Calif. hospital with a brain aneurysm following a night of partying with friends. Within days, as she teetered on the brink of death, the lines had been drawn in a vicious battle over $400 million that has torn one of the nation’s most famous families apart.
Michelle and her twin brother, Brad Lund, are the grandchildren of late entertainment titan Walt Disney. In the 1950s and 1960s, their father Bill, a real estate developer, helped Walt scout the swampy acreage in Central Florida that would become Disney World.
Bill married Walt’s daughter, Sharon, in 1968, and the twins were born in 1970. Before she died in 1993, Sharon set up trust funds for Brad and Michelle that are now worth about $400 million. According to the terms of the trust, the siblings were each to receive annual payments, plus lump sums at five-year intervals.
But now the twins have squared off -- Brad with father Bill in his corner, Michelle in hers with the estate’s trustees. They are set to meet in a California courtroom for a civil trial that begins Dec. 5.
The legal battle began immediately after Michelle’s aneurysm, while she was comatose. Bill tried to move her to a hospital in Arizona, where he lives, and the trustees filed suit. When she recovered, Michelle took the trustees’ side. Ever since, they’ve been paying out Michelle’s regular multimillion-dollar disbursements according to the terms mandated by Sharon, but withholding Brad’s payments. In next month’s trial, Bill and Brad will try to end the trustees’ control of Brad’s money.
Michelle’s side says Brad is incapable of managing the chunk of the Disney fortune due him because he has “chronic cognitive disability.” The trustees also allege that Bill Lund has “taken advantage” of his son’s “disability” to gain millions in the past, in the form of “secret profits” using trust fund money.
Bill denies wrongdoing, charging it’s the trustees who’ve looted the trust fund of millions. They've been manipulating Michelle by releasing funds to her while denying payments to Brad, he says.
Full Article and Source:
The Disneys: Not the Happiest Family on Earth