It seems that disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein was plotting and scheming to protect his fortune almost up to the day of his suicide.
Apparently, Epstein signed a new will only two days before his death leaving his $577 million in assets to his brother. He took the further step of putting his assets into a trust.
But trusts and beneficiaries be damned. Lawyers already have the estate in their sights, although the trust could complicate efforts by victims to sue for damages. Currently, at least five women are already planning to do so, including two who are seeking $100 million in damages.
While traditionally assets are placed in trusts to protect the funds from creditors, in a case such as this one there is a window in which alleged victims have the opportunity to file claims. Epstein transferred the assets into a revocable trust, which suggests that there may have been intent to hinder, defraud or delay creditors. A revocable trust can have its terms changed at any time.
Alleged victims might also be able to bring what is called a fraudulent transfer action, or voidable transactions act. This could unwind any transfers into the trust and make the assets vulnerable. However, it can take some time to effect such an action – as long as three years.
Epstein’s last minute move to protect his assets might seem precipitous, but there’s a good chance that he already had other assets in trust. It seems unlikely that such a significant undertaking could be facilitated with such speed.
The total assets attributed to Epstein include far more than cash – for example, millions of dollars in shares of companies that hold the titles to his various properties around the world and nearly $200 million in private equity and hedge fund investments.
Prosecutors have filed to drop the criminal case against Epstein, since it’s not possible to prosecute a corpse. However, the government plans to continue its investigation since other coconspirators could be involved.
For more on the case and potential actions by alleged victims, please see:
Jeffrey Epstein Put His Assets In A Trust—But Here’s How His Alleged Victims Can Go After His Money | Forbes