IBJNews

Attorneys finish arguments on Simon estate issue

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Attorneys for Bren Simon’s stepchildren argued on Thursday that she is so incapable of serving as trustee of her late husband’s estate that she failed to take even the basic step of hiring a financial adviser to manage the fortune.

The charge came during a hearing in which her attorneys made final arguments to fend off a challenge from her stepchildren over whether she is fit to remain as trustee over Melvin Simon’s roughly $2 billion estate.

Bren did not attend the hearing in Hamilton Superior Court.

Melvin, who died in September 2009, co-founded Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc., the nation’s largest shopping mall owner.

Specifically, attorneys for the stepchildren took aim at $500 million worth of Simon stock Bren has been trying to unload since her husband's death. The publicly traded company declined to immediately convert the ownership units into common stock that could be easily liquidated, citing a challenge to the will.

Attorneys for Deborah Simon, who attended the hearing, pointed out the shares have grown in value by tens of millions of dollars since then.

“Ten months after Mel’s death, there’s no financial manager, no diversification [of assets],” said Barry Simon, who is not related to the Simon family.

Deborah’s attempt to get Bren removed as trustee of the estate is part of an effort to challenge her father’s will. A jury trial in the case is tentatively scheduled for September 2011.

Judge William J. Hughes on Thursday took the arguments to remove Bren as trustee under advisement and will rule at a later date.

But before he did, Hughes took to task lawyers on both sides as they wrapped up arguments.

Hughes questioned Barry Simon’s request to assign a corporate fiduciary to the trust to replace Bren when there are few assets presently moving through it.

“Which one, who doesn’t already have a conflict?” Hughes asked.
 
His most pointed exchange during the afternoon, however, came with one of Bren's attorney, Michael Ciresi.

Ciresi argued Bren has no reason to hire a financial adviser to oversee $500 million in Simon shares she wants to sell, until she needs to reinvest the money.

“So what do you do [with the money]?” Hughes asked. “Put it in a bank?”

Ciresi maintained that his client is unsure what she will do, but putting the money temporarily in U.S. Treasuries is a possibility.

“It would be darn hard to find an adviser in this country who would say to immediately invest $500 million,” Ciresi argued. “Getting a handle on all the assets has been a horrendously difficult job.”

The judge also grilled Ciresi about a $14 million advance Bren took from the trust to pay her private counsel.

Hughes said state law requires a trustee to get approval from a court and trust beneficiaries before a loan can be given, and “I don’t think there’s evidence of the two.”

Ciresi said he thought Indiana law gave Bren the right to take the advance.

“It’s not whether it can be done,” Hughes said, “it’s how it was done.”

Ciresi portrayed the mistake as “inadvertent.”

“If you want to direct the consequences at anyone, direct them at me,” he told the judge.

Deborah contends her father was suffering from dementia near the end of his life and didn’t understand what he was doing when he revised his estate plan, boosting the share of his fortune going directly to Bren from one-third to one-half.

The changes also wiped out a portion that was to go to Deborah and siblings Cynthia Simon-Skjodt and Simon Chairman and CEO David Simon from Mel’s earlier marriage, and left charitable gifts stipulated in prior versions to Bren’s discretion. Bren, who married Mel in 1972, contends the changes fully reflected his wishes.

In a court hearing earlier this month, Deborah’s legal team played portions of videotaped testimony from Bren, taken in March, in which she describes Deborah and her siblings as spoiled, vicious and hurtful.

In e-mails entered into the court record, Bren calls Deborah “bin Laden” and describes the actions of David as “terrorism.”
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!

ADVERTISEMENT