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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney for more than 20 years I’m always interested in new stories involving individuals and their estate planning. I always feel like we could learn from both the mistakes and the successes of those individuals around us who have either done things wrong or right. This article is based on Jeffrey Epstein who recently died from suicide in his New York City jail cell after being arrested and imprisoned for his alleged criminal actions involving several female victims who claimed he sexually assaulted them. Mr. Epstein is worth a reported $559 million.

Mr. Epstein passed away without any wife or children and his closest living relative is a brother who appears to be the only person who could claim Mr. Epstein’s estate as an heir. However, with several civil lawsuits already pending and more likely to come from the victims of Mr Epstein, the question has to be asked who will receive Mr. Epstein’s estate?

With his passing, the criminal action that was brought against him will likely be dropped. This opens the door and allows the current and potential civil cases to proceed forward. It’s likely that his list of accusers is going to grow now that he has passed away. While the size of his estate, and the allegations of his actions may make this case unique, it is not uncommon for an estate to have civil legal actions pending against the individual who passed away. As a result, the litigation changes from the individual who died, to the estate as a party. In other words, the civil litigations can continue its just that the estate would have to pay any settlements, or any judgments that are entered.

One of the main purposes of probating an estate is to allow creditors to make claims against the estate. Additionally, through the probate process, all legitimate claims of creditors must be paid before any distributions are made to any beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. Because of this, and because of the size of mr. Epstein’s a state, a probate will be required, and it’s through the probate process that all of the civil litigations will be pending against the estate. In other words, Mr. Epstein’s probate cannot be completed until all of the civil litigations are over. Given the size of his estate, and the large number of potential victims and claims that will likely be brought, this could take many years.


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 consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at 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.

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