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Pedophile Will

So my blog prognostication abilities continue to be abysmal. In addition to the coroner determining that Jeffrey Epstein hung himself, he actually prepared a will two days before he died.

Epstein’s will left everything to a trust he created the same day as his will. Of course, the trust beneficiaries and its terms are private. His will designates two long time employees as co-executors of his estate and provided that they would each receive $250K for serving in that capacity. Meanwhile, an attorney for one of the women suing Epstein claims that he was an evil genius for filing the estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Several quick points:

1. Epstein’s estate is being probated in the US Virgin Islands because that is where he was considered a resident. Estates are probated in the decedent’s state of domicile.

2. The NY Post’s expert who said the will was filed in the Virgin Islands due to privacy reasons and the attorney suing Epstein on behalf of his alleged victims who thinks the US Virgin Islands filings are pure evil are fools and need to brush up on probate law.

3. It is interesting that the executors have agreed to fill that role for $250K. The commissions for executors are set by statute. Typically, they would receive a percentage of the estate which would be at least 1% or $5.7 million in this matter.

4. The reporting by the NY Post and the NYT has been error filled on this matter. I expect shoddy reporting from them on matters involving President Trump and from the Cincinnati Enquirer, but not from the NYT on a story like this.

Photo Credit:  NY Post  Composite

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

 

Questionable Planning, Terrible Reporting

James Gandolfini  of Sopranos fame was survived by a 13 year old son, an infant daughter, and his second wife.  His estate is reported to be worth $70 million.

His will, prepared in December, was filed in probate court yesterday.  It leaves his property in Italy equally to his children in trust, his clothes and jewelry to his son, bequests totaling $1.6 million to various individuals, and leaves 30% of the remainder to each of his sisters and 20% each to his wife and daughter.   The share for his daughter will remain in trust until she reaches 21.  The will states he has provided for his son elsewhere.  However, almost all media outlets have incorrectly reported that his son is the major beneficiary of his estate.

Many points:

1.  He should have used a funded living trust to ensure privacy of his net worth and his intentions which avoids Cincinnati attorneys from critiquing it .

2.  Giving the daughter unrestricted access to her share at 21 is a recipe for disaster.  He should have staggered her distributions over 10 or 15 years with the earliest one at 25.

3.  The testamentary trust will be expensive to administer for the next 20 years.  A living trust would be easier, less costly, and private.

4. Estate taxes will be painful and could have been delayed/minimized. The federal tax bill will be nearly $20 million while the NY bill will be over $4 million.  He could have delayed the payment of taxes by leaving assets in trust for his wife and giving his daughter her share from the same trust after the death of his wife.

5.  Odd to leave 60% of the remainder to his sisters and none of it to his son.

6.  Unless the clothes/jewelry and  Italian property comprise the majority of the assets, all media outlets from Fox News to HuffPo and from ABC to NY Post, and all others, are incorrect in reporting that the son receives the bulk of the estate.

7.  The linked article also states that it is unclear who will receive the proceeds of other properties once they are sold.  It must be too difficult for reporters to ask an estate planning attorney to read the will and inform them that the proceeds are the remainder and will be distributed to his sisters, wife and daughter.

8.  When the mainstream media ignores big stories like Benghazi and Presidential debate moderators get their facts wrong when interjecting themselves into debates (i.e. Candy Crowley), we should not be disappointed when they can not accurately report the contents of a will.  We should trust them less, though.

9.  I hope that Mr. Gandolfini provided generously for his son in a life insurance trust or some other vehicle.  Otherwise, the son’s trauma of finding his dying father will be compounded by receiving much less than his sister, step mom, and aunts.   Maybe someday he will grow into the clothes if he uses food as comfort.

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All Posts By Jay Brinker

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.