WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A snag in efforts to settle a dispute about a $350-million trust left by auto magnate Henry Ford II has been worked out with the appointment of a guardian to represent his minor grandchildren.
Attorneys for Kathleen DuRoss Ford, 48, widow of the Ford Motor Co. heir, at first objected to another attorney's insistence of a guardian, calling it a last-minute stall tactic.
But they later agreed Tuesday to the appointment of retired Palm Beach Circuit Judge Robert S. Hewitt, 71, as guardian of the four minor grandchildren and any unborn grandchildren, residuary beneficiaries of the trust.
The minors will benefit after the death of Mrs. Ford, who is entitled to receive a minimum of $1.5 million a year from the trust plus any income derived from investments.
In another Ford family matter, a hearing was scheduled in Palm Beach County Circuit Court on a motion to dismiss Cristina Ford's $5.4-million alimony claim. Ford divorced Cristina, his second wife, in 1980, and she claims she has been cut off since his death, not receiving any money from Ford's estate.
Ford, who died Sept. 29, 1987, took control of Ford Motor Co. in 1945 from his grandfather, auto pioneer Henry Ford.
Provisions of the confidential trust became public when his widow Ford filed a lawsuit challenging the administration of the trust. She and Ford's son, Edsel B. Ford II, had disagreed about whether the trust should pay $1 million a year to William Donaldson, a friend of Henry Ford's and the third trustee, to manage the money.
They also disagreed about which attorney would be counsel for the trust and how the money should be invested.
The trustees' 14 attorneys were in court Monday, ready to settle the lawsuit and avoid the publicity that a trial would generate. But the agreement began to unravel when James Weber, attorney for Ford's grandchildren, said a guardian was needed.
Judge Vaughn Rudnick, who must approve any agreement, refused to approve it without Weber's consent.