Delaware files action in Florida DuPont trust battle

Delaware is getting its day in court in Florida, where the handling of Alfred I. duPont’s trust and funding of The Nemours Foundation is being questioned.

Trustees want to divide the trust into two entities for tax purposes. The Nemours Foundation includes A. I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, children’s clinics in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida, Nemours Mansion and Gardens, and Nemours Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Today my office has filed an action asking the court in Florida to order the trustees of this over-$4-billion trust to adhere to Mr. duPont’s clear intent that Delaware’s children and elderly be the ultimate beneficiaries of his trust established nearly 75 years ago,” Attorney General Beau Biden said Monday.  duPont lived in Florida when he died in 1935. 

The state’s filing alleges that the trust has deviated from the conditions that duPont spelled out in his will, which specified that “first consideration in each instance (be) given to beneficiaries who are residents of Delaware.”  Also, the will indicated that the governing body of Nemours should consist of a majority of Delawareans.  Biden said the trustees have shifted their primary focus toward Florida, away from Delaware. 

The complaint also says that a five-year, $72-million renovation of the Nemours Mansion and Gardens came entirely out of Delaware’s allocation under the trust fund.  At the same time, it’s alleged that the former Wilmington area home of duPont is too restrictive with regards to visitors, and that it bars children under age 12 from touring the mansion and gardens. 

“Alfred I. duPont wanted the mansion to be for the public good,” Biden said.  “Few Delawareans have seen Nemours, but the other mansion and gardens are part of the fabric of our state.  This shows that the current Nemours governing scheme is not sensitive to Delaware residents.”  The expenditure, according to Biden, cost Delaware $36-million that could have been spent on caring for children and the elderly. 

The state seeks several remedies, including an assurance that three-fifths of the governing body that controls the Nemours Foundation be Delaware residents, a full accounting of the trust’s income and value of its assets from 2005 to 2011, and to make Nemours Mansion and Gardens open and accessible to the public, including children, in accordance with Alfred I duPont’s intent.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal