By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney
As an estate planning attorney for the last 20 years it has always interested me when I come across news stories dealing with how individuals have handled their estate planning. This has never been more true that when it comes to the infamous Jeffrey Epstein who was accused of sexually assaulting numerous women many of whom were underaged.
Mr. Epstein had been charged with numerous criminal counts and was being held in jail in New York awaiting his trial, when he committed suicide. Immediately afterwards the news outlets were reporting that various claims were being filed by victims against his estate with a prediction that many more suits would also be filed now that Mr. Epstein had died. Then, to twist the plot even further, it was reported that two days before he committed suicide, he had completed his own written last will and testament and had transferred everything he owned into one or more trusts. The news outlets were speculating on when or whether any of the victims’ claims would be satisfied because of the things that Mr. Epstein had done withhis estate planning prior to his suicide.
The good news is that the victims of Mr. Epstein will be able to continue with their lawsuits. Because Mr. Epstein would have been aware of those suits which had already been filed, and those suits which would likely be filed, any transfers he did of his estate prior to his death are likely going to be considered fraudulent transfers which means they would be undone and the money, property, and other assets in his estate will still be available to satisfy any civil judgments that are obtained by his victims. In other words, his efforts to protect his estate will likely be futile.
This highlights the fact that while estate-planning is a good way to protect assets, the steps that must be taken to protect assets can only be done before any problems arise or creditors exist. If these steps are taken after the problems arise, or the litigations are filed, or creditors exist, it is too late!
It’s for this reason that when we meet with estate planning clients we always suggest that at least a basic estate plan be put in place. Additionally, if an individual is concerned about asset protection, they should work to create trusts and transfer property into those trusts, before any issues arise. So, while Mr. Epstein appears to have victimized individuals to the very end of his life, those same victims should be able to have their day in court after all.
ENLIST AN IDAHO ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU
If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems. I have helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans and I’m confident that I can help you too.