Bren Simon deposition sheds light on family feud

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A Hamilton County judge is scheduled to hear final arguments Thursday over whether Bren Simon should remain as trustee for her late husband's roughly $2 billion estate.

The courtroom battle over the estate of the mall billionaire Melvin Simon earlier this month provided the most public glimpse yet into a long-simmering feud among members of one of the city's wealthiest and most prominent families.

Attorneys for Bren's stepchildren on July 15 played parts of a more than five-hour video deposition Bren gave on March 9, in which she says her stepchildren have been “cruel, insensitive and hurtful on a fairly regular basis” since she joined the family. (View several clips from the deposition below.)

Bren Simon described her stepchildren Deborah Simon and her siblings Cynthia Simon-Skjodt and David Simon, the chairman and CEO of Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, as spoiled and vicious, and said they refused to accept her as family despite her best efforts during 37 years of marriage.

The stepchildren are challenging last-minute changes to the will that give Bren most of Melvin's estate. Deborah contends her father was suffering from dementia 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 her siblings from Melvin’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.

During hearings on July 15 and July 16, Hamilton Superior Court Judge William J. Hughes listened to attorneys for both sides present arguments on whether Bren should remain as trustee over the estate.

Attorneys for Bren argued she has served capably as trustee to date and should remain in the position, while attorneys for her stepchildren argue she is unqualified because of her hostility toward them and her lack of financial acumen.

The court is scheduled to hear final arguments on the trustee issue at 1 p.m. A jury trial in the case is tentatively scheduled for September 2011.

Here are a few video highlights from Bren Simon's deposition:


  • The real truth
    Debbie, you're worried about the charities being maintained when we all know the truth is that you and David were furious when Mel and Bren gave the money to IU Med.Center and Riley Children's hospital because you felt like they were giving away "your money". You both forgot who earned the $ first. You're so full of yourselves that you can't see the truth. It's sad.
  • Zzzzzzzzz
    Z- Strong comeback. I anticipated that since you couldn't arm yourself with facts to debate me, you'd go straight for the name calling. Look how Gina and DJ effectively debated and learn from them. Once you've learned to use intelligence, come back to the forum. Until then, stick to Facebook, where conversations about facelifts are welcomed when discussing a legitimate legal concern.
  • Still not buying it
    KW,I hear what your saying, but I just can't believe someone in a sound state of mind would do that. Now, if someone were around them 24/7 and saying the sky is green and the grass is blue all the time one might start to believe them just to be left alone. Sorry to hear about your situation but it sounds like this happens alot more than its reported and only the lawyers win. The more money involved the more the interesting it gets as the vultures fly around. Hell its like a wreck on the highway where people slow down to take a look at what happened!
  • KW, can you read or is it a comprehension issue for you?
    Where on earth did you get "redistribution of wealth" from my post? Honner the fathers REAL wishes was my message.....based on a lifetime of his actions of giving to charities he believed in, coupled with the fact that the will stipulating to the charities had been standing for some time...what I posted implied Bren coersed her wished onto Mel; it has nothiing to do with redistribution of wealth. Reading comprehension is a good thing; employ it.
  • Try knowing your facts before making such stupid statements
    Z - Let me get this straight: You truly believe that the Bush administratation INCREASED taxes on the "have nots" to give the money to the "haves?" I seldom say such things in debate but, for you, I'll make an exception. You are an idiot. You are either completely ignorant, completely uneducated, or just an emotional train wreck - probably all three. Feel free to do the research (doubting you know how). President Bush - not my favorite man either, by the way - NEVER INCREASED taxes on anyone. In fact, your precious Obama is getting ready to do away with the Bush "across the board" tax CUTS (thereby raising taxes). Don't you ever watch the news or read a paper. Even the failing liberal MSNBC is reporting that. Stop writing on public forums - you are too stupid to warrant the cyberspace you fill. Ignorance like yours is the greatest single problem our country faces.
    • Redistribution of wealth? You really believe in that?
      Do you believe in the redistribution of wealth that took place under the previous administration (from the have nots to the haves and have mores)? I don't.
      • Redistribution of wealth? You really believe in that?
        DJ & Gina - My heart might agree with your statements about the charities but that is irrelevant. If a man has not been deemed incompetant by a professional, HIS wishes should supersede ANYONE else's. It's HIS money! No government nor court has any right to step in because of a charity's need. If you believe in redistribution of wealth, don't bother responding to me because I have no respect for ignorance. As for my past experience, DJ, you are absolutely correct. I was in EXACTLY the same situation with my step-mother (ok, a little less $), and I stood on the side of my father's last will - changed 5 months before his death - giving everything to his wife of 30 years. That was a change from the will he had signed previously, but, it was his will. So be careful about your assumptions...
        • Bren Simon
          How many face (and other) lifts has the Simon woman had?
        • ROYALTY
        • DJ said it well, ES made a great point
          I agree with DJ's comments, 1/3 of a huge estate for the kids and 1/3 for the wife is a ton of money. Bren is greedy. It makes me sick that the charities that Mel supported for so many years are getting kicked to the curb in the last few months of his life, and Bren wants to pass that off as Mel's wishes? That smacks of coersion to me. I don't see the Simon kids as greedy, I see them as wanting to honnor the wishes of their father...and see that the charities get help he promised them.
        • Reality, not their world!
          K.W. & LWS must have some lingering resentment from a past relationship, otherwise why would they think this way? The will was written pretty fairly to begin with. Kids get 1/3 of a vaaaaaaaaaast sum of money, Bren gets a third of a vaaaaaaaast sum of money, and now... MOST importantly the charities get some money NOW, not at Brens whim or when she dies but NOW. None of that is happening is it?! Get off your "she deserves 50%" high horse and look at the whole picture. She can live on 1/3 of the will I'm betting, the charities on the other hand are probably living day to day handout by handout. Somebody should settle this under a bridge on a hot day downtown somewhere, with the jury being some of the charity recipients!
          • Pretty much
            hekktor: I feel foolish. I wasn't aware that the three Simon kids had filed a police report accusing Bren of theft. On your second point, taking advantage of the elderly is never ok. Again, I was unaware that it had been determined by doctors that Mel Simon was unable to make decisions for himself at the time of the changing of the will. If he was deemed incompetant by professionals or a court of law, I would never had made my initial arguement. As for the bloodline point, I see no relevance between what a husband wants to give his wife and that to which his children feel entitled. Good to know that you are the judge and jury on this, without the facts. Try to keep emotion out of your debate.
          • Must See TV
            Great view into the mindset of Bren Simon. Not composed enough to handle a deposition, but able to oversee billions of dollars??? I don't think so. So many people characterize the children as spoiled, but I seriously doubt that a man of Mel Simon's acumen would change his will in the last month's of his life to reflect a whole new attitude towards his children and charitable work...and let no one know about it except his wife.

            It doesn't take Columbo to figure this mystery out.
          • Move On
            Bren was his wife for 37 years and she deserves 50%. Anyone who has been married understands what it is like to stay with someone for 37 years. But it is even more challenging when you have step-children. I'm sorry, you can't question that.
          • Case closed?
            So, let me understand your point K.W.: if a second wife hates her stepkids and finds herself in a position where her ailing husband can't understand what is happening to him, the wife has a license to steal from the stepkids because a lot of money is involved?

            Theft is okay among the wealthy because they can afford it?

            Take advantage of elderly is okay if you are rich?

            Long marriages allow theft from kids not of your own bloodline?

            • Spoiled little brats
              We're talking $2,000,000,000.00 folks! The kids are upset because their step-mother gets 50% instead of her former amoun t of 33%. What this boils down to is that each of the Simon kids will only get $167,000,000 instead of $466,000,000. My question is : What the hell did they do to deserve $466 million? They grew up with everything they wanted, took over Daddy's company, and are worth hundred of millions themselves already thanks to Simon stock. This is greed... and this time, greed is not good. Bren is an interesting character, but that aside, ahe was the wife of Melvin for 37 years. Case closed.
            • never, ever
              never, ever, let a beneficiary, especially one of several beneficiaries, serve as trustee - even if the beneficiaries are Siamese twins, it's a recipe for trouble...

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