Robert Durst is the NY real estate heir who was recently arrested in New Orleans for the 2000 murder of his friend, Susan Berman, who was found dead with a single gun shot wound to her head. She had supposedly been contacted by police about the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife shortly before her death. Durst has been married to Deborah Lee Charatan, an ambitious NY real estate broker, since 8 days before the murder of Berman, although they had dated for 12 years prior. Durst was bought out of his family’s trust for $65 million in 2006 and is now reportedly worth $100 million. In the finale of HBO’s series, “Jinxed”, Durst is recorded as saying he killed them all (i.e wife, friend, and neighbor). Haratan is reportedly living with one of Durst’s lawyers even though she is still married to Durst.
Several quick points:
1. As a general rule, spouses are not required to testify against each other in a trial so a marriage to Charatan would protect Durst from any testimony by her about his past and where the bodies are buried, so to speak.
2. If Durst dies in prison, Charatan will likely inherit a large portion of his estate. It is difficult to entirely disinherit a spouse – in Ohio a spouse is entitled to half the probate estate if there are no children, even if the will provides otherwise.
3. It is high stakes gambling to be involved with someone suspected of killing a spouse and girlfriend, and who was acquitted of killing and dismembering a neighbor while living as a mute woman, although a payoff of $50 million at his death might make it worthwhile. Emphasis on might.
4. Living with one of the attorneys of someone who killed and dismembered a neighbor is not advisable due to the possibility of raising his ire and meeting the same fate as his wife, friend, and neighbor. Living 1,000 miles away would be the smart play.
I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.