With resolution of a family feud over disposition of the $4-billion Sarah C. Getty Trust at hand, a Getty family lawyer Tuesday broke ranks with his client and 25 other family members who want to end the dispute, saying the proposed settlement would compromise the rights of unborn heirs to the J. Paul Getty fortune.
Los Angeles lawyer Seth M. Hufstedler, who represents 16-year-old Tara Getty and future Getty offspring, said the proposed settlement submitted by other Getty lawyers to a Los Angeles Superior Court on May 16 "shows a definite tilt" toward beneficiaries who are already living.
He said that, under the proposal--which has been endorsed by all 26 living heirs to the oil billionaire's estate, including Hufstedler's client--future offspring could forfeit "hundreds of millions of dollars" unless the court imposes "some kind of check on the independence" of trustees' management of the trust funds. He asked that the settlement proposals be modified to include protection for future beneficiaries.
Superior Court Judge Richard P. Byrne made no ruling on the request Tuesday. He is expected to hear more arguments on the case today.
None of the other three lawyers who represent future Getty offspring joined Hufstedler in opposition to the settlement.
"We consider the settlement a fair resolution. . . . Our concerns have already been addressed," said Edward M. Stadum, who represents the children and future offspring of Eugene Paul Getty Jr. "He (Hufstedler) is simply wrong."
Although details of the complex settlement agreement remained murky Tuesday because of a court order to keep it sealed, Richard Haas, who represents Gordon Getty, explained parts of the proposal during the court hearing.
Haas said the proposal basically calls for the $4-billion trust--established in 1934 by J. Paul Getty and his mother, Sarah C. Getty--to be divided into four smaller trusts totaling about $750 million each.
The remaining $1 billion has already been earmarked for state and federal taxes.
Two of the three sons of J. Paul Getty--Gordon Getty, 51, and Eugene Paul Getty Jr., 52--would each oversee a $750-million trust, while another $750-million trust would be shared by the three daughters of J. Paul Getty's other son, George Franklin Getty II, who died in 1973.
The fourth $750-million trust would be further subdivided into three parts so that J. Paul Getty's fourth son, the disfavored Jean Ronald Getty, would get only $3,000 in income annually, while $9,000 in other trust income would be distributed to Gordon and Eugene Paul Getty.
The settlement proposal also requires that Gordon Getty, an amateur musician and now the sole trustee of the Getty family trust, resign his post and relinquish any claims against the $4-billion trust fund.
Finally, the settlement proposal endorses Judge Byrne's preliminary decision to pay $1.1 billion in capital gains taxes out of current trust income.