Recent reporting has indicated that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 81, and her adult daughter Katherine Feinstein are locked in a bitter legal dispute with the estate trustees of the senator's late husband, Richard Blum, with respect to financial disbursements and the ownership of multiple properties.
A California judge just ordered both sides in the matter to settle the dispute privately in mediation, according to the Washington Examiner.
Primarily at issue are claims of "financial elder abuse" lodged against the Blum estate trustees by Katherine Feinstein on behalf of her mother, over whom she reportedly has power of attorney, by way of refusing to cover the costs of mounting medical bills for the increasingly ailing elderly senator.
Politico reported that San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Roger Picquet, who was brought in from outside of San Francisco to preside over the legal dispute, ordered the squabbling parties into mediation during a Monday hearing and said, "I am looking for a global outcome, if we can get it."
As noted, Katherine Feinstein has filed suit against the trustees of the Blum estate and accused them of "financial elder abuse" for allegedly refusing to pay for the senator's medical bills following her months-long bout earlier this year with shingles and other complications that have left her exceeding frail and confused.
The younger Feinstein is aiming to force the estate to make disbursements to cover those medical bills as well as force the sale of a family beach house that the senator co-owns but no longer uses.
In response, the trustees have denied the allegations of wrongdoing and welcomed mediation as they have counter-alleged that the younger Feinstein is motivated by greed instead of true concern for her mother and called into question the validity of her claimed power of attorney over the senator's affairs.
They further argued that the younger Feinstein changed the locks to keep them out of the Stinson Beach residence, which is valued at around $5.6 million, and that it is unclear if she is fairly representing the desires of her mother as "There is no evidence of what the senator wants."
The Los Angeles Times reported that Judge Picquet was brought in from San Luis Obispo because all of the judges in San Francisco recused themselves from the matter in light of their relationships with the senator, who previously served as mayor of San Francisco, and the daughter, who previously served as a judge in the city.
With regard to the mediation ordered by Picquet, he made it clear that he expected the dispute to be resolved by December 11, unless an extension was deemed necessary, and set a date for January 22 for a hearing to presumably finalize the mediated settlement.
While the demanded disbursements from the estate to cover Feinstein's medical bills will certainly be the top issue during mediation, the ultimate outcome of the Stinson Beach home will be up for discussion, as Feinstein reportedly wants to sell that home immediately -- with the proceeds placed in escrow to garner interest while mediation is ongoing -- while the late Blum's three adult daughters from a previous marriage apparently hope to keep that property as part of the family's estate.
One proposed solution from the estate trustees involves Feinstein's $20 million mansion in San Francisco, in which the senator owns an 83% stake, with the suggestion being that the Blum estate swaps some or all of its minority stake in the valuable mansion for Feinstein's 50% stake in the beach house.
The Times also reported that the Blum estate trustees have balked at Katherine Feinstein's demands for immediate disbursements in light of the fact that they still have not yet determined the full value of the entire estate given how vast and complex it is with multiple properties and much of Blum's wealth tied up in a multitude of investments.
Judge Piquet, in addition to ordering mediation to settle the dispute, also instructed the trustees to give the Feinsteins at least partial information on the valuation of the estate thus far and said, "Some accounting of some credibility needs to be provided."