Ruth Lilly's relatives seek new financial controls - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Ruth Lilly's relatives seek new financial controls

Ruth Lilly Ruth Lilly
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John Stehr/13 Investigates

Indianapolis - In a major development in a story the 13 Investigates team first reported in 1998, the family of Ruth Lilly wants the court to give them supervision over all of her affairs. Ruth Lilly is the sole surviving great-grandchild of Eli Lilly. Her relatives say she is now both physically and mentally incapacitated.

The petition by her nieces and nephews for a personal guardianship over Ruth Lilly is only the latest chapter in a long legal saga for the 90-year-old pharmaceutical heiress.

One of the wealthiest women in the world, she has lived a reclusive life marred by both physical and mental ailments that kept her in and out of hospitals for years and, since 1981, under court supervision for the handling of her financial affairs.

Pictures from a 1998 Eyewitness News investigation showed a frail Lilly who sources said had only limited awareness of her circumstances at the time. The investigation documented questionable spending for things like lavish overseas trips for large groups.

A resulting court review prompted an acknowledgement of lax oversight by National City Bank and a reduction in fees by both the bank and Lilly's personal attorney, Tom Ewbank.

The court also ordered reforms in the handling of Lilly's travels.

Earlier this year, Eyewitness News learned, a planned trip to the west coast was canceled at the last minute because Lilly fell ill and was hospitalized.

Now, her six nieces and nephews say she has deteriorated both mentally and physically. In a filing in Marion County probate court, they said: "She is incapable of making personal and medical decisions and would best be served by a personal guardianship."

The petition proposes to give oversight for Lilly's personal and medical decisions to a niece and nephew Ted Lilly. If approved, the arrangement would end Ewbank's longtime legal role in Lilly's life.

Ewbank has signed a consent to the petition on Lilly's behalf, saying she doesn't agree with all of its contentions but authorized it anyway because of her age and health. A hearing is scheduled in August.

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