Feinstein says late husband’s trust not paying her medical bills, asks court for more control

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, wearing a blue pantsuit, sits in a wheelchair as others walk alongside her.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) departs a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May after returning to Capitol Hill from an extended absence.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

After acute health problems that kept her away from Washington for months earlier this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is now engaged in a legal effort to gain more control of the finances from her late husband’s trust.

The 90-year-old California Democrat filed a petition asking a court to make her daughter, Katherine Feinstein, a successor trustee of Richard Blum’s trust, arguing that the people serving as trustees “have refused to make distributions to reimburse Senator Feinstein’s medical expenses.”

Blum, who died last year, was a wealthy financier and Katherine Feinstein’s stepfather. Katherine Feinstein filed the petition on her mother’s behalf; she is a former superior court judge and a current San Francisco fire commissioner.


“Senator Feinstein has incurred significant medical expenses, and she submitted a request to whom she believed to be the trustees of the 1996 Marital Trust for reimbursement of her medical bills,” says the petition, which was filed Monday in San Francisco Superior Court.

“While seeking reimbursement for her medical expenses Senator Feinstein learned that Blum did not name the purported trustees in the 1996 Trust and they were not appointed in compliance with its terms.”

The petition asks the court to appoint Katherine Feinstein as a successor trustee who would control the trust, which includes a life insurance policy for Blum and its proceeds. The trust is worth between $1 million and $5 million, according to Feinstein’s Senate financial disclosures. The longtime San Franciscan’s assets go far beyond this trust, with government transparency group Open Secrets estimating her net worth in 2018 at upwards of $120 million.

In the court documents, Feinstein argues that trustees Mark R. Klein and Marc Scholvinck, who both previously worked with Blum, were improperly appointed as trustees after his death.

“My clients are perplexed by today’s filing. Richard Blum’s trust has never denied any disbursement to Senator Feinstein, let alone for medical expenses,” said Klein and Scholvinck’s attorney Steven P. Braccini in an email. Braccini noted that he had not been shown any evidence that Katherine Feinstein had power of attorney for her mother.

“Katherine [has not] made it clear, either in this filing or directly to my clients, why a sitting United States senator would require someone to have power of attorney over her. While my clients are deeply concerned, we all remain hopeful that this is simply a misunderstanding that can be quickly resolved, rather than a stepdaughter engaging in some kind of misguided attempt to gain control over trust assets to which she is not entitled.”


Danville attorney Loren Barr, who specializes in estate planning, said that in most cases the delineating powers of attorney “are very rarely recorded. There’s no requirement they be recorded. They’re almost never recorded.” Feinstein granting this to her daughter could mean several things, he added.

One, he said, is because she is incapacitated and couldn’t read documents or sign them. “The other time it’s done is somebody is old and tired and doesn’t have the energy to travel if they’re out of town,” he said.

“There are general powers of attorney that have almost everything in it. But then there are also limited powers of attorney that are used for a particular purpose. So when my friend moved to England, and wanted to sell his house out here in the East Bay, he gave me a power to sell the house.”

Feinstein missed nearly three months of work after contracting a case of shingles and experiencing prolonged side effects that partially paralyzed her face and caused difficulty walking. Her absence, which slowed the appointment of some judicial nominees, caused serious consternation among colleagues and members of the Democratic Party.

When she returned in mid-May, she appeared frail and in one conversation appeared to not recall she’d been absent for months. Her return did unlock the nomination of certain nominees and quelled some of the criticism being lobbed her way, though concerns about her mental acuity have persisted.

A recent statewide poll found that more than 40% of voters felt Feinstein should resign, and just 27% thought she should finish her term. A substantial majority felt she is no longer fit to serve in office.


She has already said she’s not running for another term in 2024. When The Times approached her in the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, she declined to answer questions on the subject. Feinstein’s daughter didn’t return a call seeking comment.

“This is a private legal matter. Senator Feinstein and her office won’t have any comment,” Feinstein spokesman Adam Russell wrote in an email.

Last month, in a separate petition made in Superior Court, Katherine Feinstein alleged that Klein wouldn’t execute the necessary steps that would allow the senator to sell a home she owned in a gated community at Stinson Beach with her late husband. Feinstein has asked a court to order Klein to sign off on a sale of the home because “she does not want to pay for half of the property’s carrying costs. She desires to sell Stinson Beach as soon as possible.”

Feinstein’s daughter alleged in court documents that Blum’s three daughters don’t want to sell the home because it would reduce their inheritance when the senator dies and “wish to make use of Stinson Beach during Senator Feinstein’s lifetime and after her death at her expense.”

No response has been filed by Klein or Blum’s children, who could not be reached for comment. A hearing for the case has been set for late August.

The couple owned this home, another in San Francisco and one in Hawaii. Earlier this year the Wall Street Journal reported that Feinstein sold a home she owned with her husband in Aspen for $25.25 million. The paper reported that Klein handled the sale.


In 2021, Blum sold a home on Lake Tahoe that his investment firm owned for $36 million.

Times staff writers Erin Logan and Owen Tucker-Smith contributed to this report.