Separate trust means Scaife grandchildren weren’t to inherit 1935 fund, trustee argues
If Sarah Mellon Scaife wanted her grandchildren to inherit money from a trust she set up in 1935 for her son, she wouldn’t have created a separate trust just for the grandchildren, a trustee of the 1935 trust said in court filings Wednesday.
Scaife, mother of late Tribune-Review publisher Dick Scaife, created what’s known as the Grandchildren’s Trust in 1963, shortly before the birth of granddaughter Jennie Scaife, now 51, of Palm Beach, Fla. Jennie Scaife and her brother, David Scaife, 49, of Shadyside, want an Allegheny County court to force an accounting of the 1935 trust, which they said they would have inherited if their father hadn’t spent it before his death on July 4.
Jennie Scaife on Jan. 15 objected to the “scandalous and impertinent” disclosure of the Grandchildren’s Trust, which is worth an estimated $560 million and every year pays her and David Scaife about $12 million each. She argued their personal wealth — estimated at $350 million to $500 million each — has no bearing on the dispute over the 1935 trust.
But H. Yale Gutnick, one of three trustees of the 1935 trust and chairman of the Trib’s board of directors, said the existence of the Grandchildren’s Trust shows that Sarah Mellon Scaife never intended her grandchildren to inherit the 1935 trust.
“To put it simply, it was reasonable for Gutnick to assume that Sarah Scaife intended the trustees to distribute all trust (principal) to her son, leaving her grandchildren nothing, because she later provided for them, and handsomely, in a separate trust,” Gutnick’s filing said.
Jennie Scaife’s lawyer, William Pietragallo, said Gutnick’s claim is “more babble” and “more inaccuracy.”
“We will stand up in court,” he said.
Jennie and David Scaife claim that trustees of the 1935 trust – Gutnick, Scaife relative James Walton and PNC Bank – improperly allowed their father to spend more than $300 million, mostly to subsidize Dick Scaife’s newspapers.
The trustees argue that Sarah Mellon Scaife gave them broad authority to spend the trust’s money for Dick Scaife’s benefit, and that the siblings’ claim to the trust expired when the trust emptied. Dick Scaife, in a column he wrote shortly before his death, said nothing gave him a greater sense of accomplishment than his newspapers, especially the Tribune-Review.
Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or email@example.com.