Sunday, November 30, 2014
Siv Ljungwe died in 2010 and is remembered as a Fulbright scholar, dedicated teacher, avid outdoorswomen, and triathlete. Ljungwe also left behind a fortune worth millions of dollars, amassed over the decades through real estate investments with her husband Anders. What Ljungwe intended to do with that fortune is the subject of a long-running lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court.
Four nonprofit charities including UNICEF, the NPR Foundation, Doctors Without Borders and the San Diego Research Foundation, are suing to invalidate a trust Ljungwe created in 2008, which left all her money to Encintas lawyer Carl Dimeff.
The charities argue that Ljungwe was mentally ill when she signed off on the trust, suffering from delusions and was infatuated with Dimeff. They say Ljungwe always wanted her fortune to be distributed to the four charities, each receiving 25 percent. These were the terms in which the trust was created in 2004.
In court documents, lawyers insisted that Dimeff did nothing improper and that Ljungwe did exactly what she wanted to do with her money when she decided he would inherit it all. Dimeff said he helped to shield her from a malevolent husband, and she was thankful for his help. Dimeff was “truly surprised that she left him her entire estate.”
Yet, Superior Court Judge William Nevitt Jr. invalidated the 2008 trust, concluding there was ample evidence that Ljungwe was mentally incapacity and Dimeff had exerted undue influence on her. This coming week a second phase of the trial will begin to determine how much money the charities are owed.
See Greg Moran, Charities Challenge Woman’s Estate, UT San Diego, Nov. 28, 2014.