January 16, 2019
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Epstein Trust Created Two Days Prior to Suicide
Jeffery Epstein has been back in the news recently as people speculate the true cause of his death. It was pronounced as a suicide in August 2019, but his brother, Congressmen, and expert pathologists have all expressed doubts about the ruling.
At the time of his death, victims and people close to Epstein did not know what was going to be done with his $500 million fortune. It’s since been revealed that just two days before his death, he created a last will and testament to deal with his estate.
The news was not celebrated by victims and their legal counsel – the will significantly limits access to compensation and justice.
The 1953 Trust
In Epstein’s final documents is a “pour-over will.” A pour-over will is essentially a will that pours all of the person’s assets into a trust. Epstein’s trust, the 1953 Trust, will include all of his estimated $578 million estate. The valuation doesn’t include all of Epstein’s assets, but it does include his properties in Manhattan, Palm Beach, and the US Virgin Islands.
Exactly How Does This Affect Victims?
There are no listed beneficiaries of the trust, although many suspect that Epstein’s assets will be given to his brother. The creation of the trust also prevents assets from being distributed publicly. This severely limits victims in accessing Epstein’s estate to recover damages that he caused through his sex crimes.
Epstein’s death also limits law enforcement in accessing his assets. When Epstein was alive and awaiting trial for charges of conspiracy and trafficking minors for sex, law enforcement had the ability to seize the assets through criminal asset forfeiture. This option ended with Epstein’s death.
However, law enforcement may still have the ability to seize assets through civil forfeiture. Lawsuits are continuing to pile onto Jeffery Epstein’s estate, and it could take many years before they are all sorted out.
As with All Things Epstein, There are Doubts and Suspicions…
To top all of this off, there are doubts regarding the speed of the procedure. Many estate planning experts don’t believe that Epstein could have successfully transferred all of his assets as quickly as he did.
There may be assets missing from the trust, or procedural errors that keep assets out of the trust. Things left out of the will are more likely to be distributed among victims who win their cases against Epstein.
How does all this impact you?
Think of it as a reminder that your estate plan does not just affect you. It affects your family and the one you name as your personal representative. It affects the creditors that may come forward after your death with debts and other financial obligations.
Failing to create a solid estate plan that contains all of your assets may leave a headache for anyone who is legally or financially tied to your estate.
Want to learn more about creating an estate plan that makes it easy for you to transfer your assets after your death? Get in touch with a Florida estate planning lawyer today.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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