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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)

 

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

The New York Times just published 15,000 words about the estate and gift tax strategies President Trump’s father, Fred Trump, used to transfer his billion dollar real estate empire to his children more than 20 years ago. NYT reporters accessed public records and had others provide them confidential documents such as estate and gift tax returns. The point of the NYT piece is to disprove President Trump’s claim that he is a self-made man by claiming he received $413 million from his dad. They do not note that represents only 1/7 of his current net worth as reported today by Forbes.

A few points:

1. Even though the NYT used the terms “tax dodger,” “sham,” “dubious schemes,” and “improper,” to describe Fred Trump’s planning, the actual planning strategies he used were legitimate.

2. Fred Trump utilized valuation discounts and special trusts called GRATs to greatly reduce the gift and estate taxes owed on the transfer of his assets to his children.

3. Any impropriety on the transfers is due to the appraisal values for the real estate which seemed low in light of later sales.

4. Try as the NYT might to implicate President Trump in any impropriety, any wrong doing belongs to the person making gifts, i.e. Fred Trump, not the person receiving the gifts.

5. Am I the only one to notice that only confidential tax returns of Republicans are leaked to the press?

Photo Credit:  Trump Campaign via New York Times

License:  Fair Use/Education (from linked article)

Fountain of Youth = Deprivation and Sorrow?

 
Besides people battling over the release of Prince’s music, there is not much happening in the wills and trusts arena.  Somewhat related, Emma Morano was the last living person born in the 19th century when she died last month at the age of 117.  The NYT has a brief piece on her possessions and possible reasons for her longevity.  
 
Morano had been married briefly before separating in her late 30s, had a son who died before turning one, and worked until she was 75.  She lived in a two room apartment for the past 27 years, had not left the apartment in years, ate 3 raw eggs per day for 100 years, and usually ate pasta with raw ground beef until she stopped cooking five years ago.   
 
No points of any significance, just two observations:
 
1.  The article did not mention a will but I doubt she had any assets any than a few tchotchkes left in her name.
 
2.  If eating three raw eggs and raw ground beef daily while staying housebound is the secret to longevity, count me out.  I will gladly live a shorter life to enjoy cooked food and going outdoors.
 
Photo Credit:  Gianni Cipriano for New York Times
License:  Fair Use/Education

Once a Deceiver

divorce1-superJumbo-v2

Illustration from New York Times License: Fair Use for Education Purposes

Robert Oesterland and Sarah Pursglove made an enormous fortune in various business such as promising people credit cards, forming membership style clubs for various items such as DVDs, and selling web browser toolbars promising to remove computer viruses. When Pursglove started divorce proceedings, Oesterland swore in court that he was only worth several million dollars. Although Pursglove was unaware of their financial details, she knew they had several assets alone worth more than that, including a $30 million Toronto penthouse and a yacht that cost several million dollars annually to operate. When Pursglove started investigating their finances, she discovered they were difficult to determine because of the opacity provided by the use of myriad LLCs and trusts in tax haven destinations. The divorce is still on-going.

Several points:

1. Wealthy individuals use off-shore trusts to protect their wealth from creditors as an advanced form of asset protection planning.

2. Wealthy individuals also use off-shore trusts to hide their assets from taxation in an illegal form of tax avoidance.

3. It is no surprise that a man who made money by signing people up for memberships that continually charged their credit cards, promised credit cards to people but only gave them a list of credit card companies, and sold browser toolbars with no benefits would deceive his wife in divorce proceedings.

A Singing Will

deathbed
Taking a break from celebrity and other newsworthy estate planning items, I ran across an interesting article in the NYT this weekend. The writer discussed having an end of life playlist to listen to on one’s deathbed. He mentioned how Benedictine monks always chanted, perhaps for a week, around a dying monk, and how music has long provided comfort to others dying. He then discussed songs on his playlist.
 
A couple of quick thoughts:
 
1. Of course this does not work for people dying a sudden, unexpected death.
 
2. As your tastes change, you would have to revise your list lest you be stuck listening to “Funky Town” while dying.
 
3. One could skip the playlist idea and simply play Sufjan Steven’s “Carrie and Lowell” and “Casmir Pulaski Day” on repeat.
 
4. Thankfully this idea was not idea was not around when I was younger or I would have had Head East’s “Never Been Any Reason” on my list although the lyric “save my life going down for the last time” would be tastelessly appropriate.

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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.