The death of alleged sexual predator/billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 66, in a New York jail cell of apparent suicide has left his estate, with assets reportedly valued at $560 million, the subject of intense interest. Women who were allegedly his child victims had pending civil lawsuits against him. Elderly retirees are trying to recoup the losses incurred when he invested their life savings into bonds and notes he later sold as part of a $470 million scam 25 years ago. Other creditors will inevitably come knocking too.
With so many competing claims, the case is likely headed for a protected and messy contested probate amid an ongoing federal investigation into the activities of Epstein and purported co-conspirators. It will be imperative for each of those staking a claim to work with a civil injury lawyer who has extensive experience with probate litigation, as The Ansara Law Firm does.
Although the Epstein case is unfolding on a stunning scale, it is not so uncommon for probate litigation cases to involve decedents who had been embroiled in legal trouble. That’s often a big part of what leads their estate to probate in the first place.
The question is generally who gets to seize a bigger slice of the pie. In the Epstein case, it’s a very long line – with a pie likely to be sliced many times. Complicating matters is that Epstein reportedly went to great lengths to hide assets. Untangling that could take extensive time and financial detective work.
Representatives of several high-profile, wealthy individuals, speaking on the condition of anonymity to The Washington Post, revealed Epstein had solicited their business, offering to move their accounts offshore to shelter them from U.S. taxes. This would indicate Epstein was aware of how to move large assets around undetected or where the laws are very averse to creditors. There is little reason to think he wouldn’t have done the same with his own considerable wealth.
Complications With Dispersing Epstein’s Estate
Numerous civil claims asserting wrongdoing by Epstein have been filed, withdrawn, refiled and settled. Some are still pending. More are planned. Yet most of his victims are likely to have to wait for the U.S. government to get its take first. The IRS is expected to audit the estate, which isn’t a fast process – especially considering the twists and turns of Epstein’s financial records. As a Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer can explain, only what is left behind from the IRS will be available for division among claimants.
The executive of the estate is likely to be Epstein’s younger brother, a real estate investor believed to be his only living relative. The brother reportedly sought to put up his own home to help his brother make bail when he was arrested in July. However, the judge decided to hold Epstein without bail, deeming him a flight risk ahead of a trial that was to take place next year.
Epstein signed a will just two days before his death that could further complicate these claims. That will reportedly indicates that his estate is to be placed in a private trust, presumably to make it tougher for accusers to seize his assets. Although it’s unlikely to work, it could result in a protracted legal battle.
Call Fort Lauderdale Probate Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
What Jeffrey Epstein’s Last-Minute Will Means for Accusers Trying to Recover Money From His Estate, Aug. 20, 2019, TIME Magazine