Friday, August 23, 2019
The death of Jeffrey Epstein, millionaire financier indicted on federal sex trafficking charges, stunned the country, especially after he had previously attempted suicide and had been in a special holding cell. But what raised more questions was the discovery that only two days prior to his demise, he had written a will leaving his entire estate - all $577 million of it - to a private pour-over trust. This development could mean that claims against the estate from lawsuits of sexual assault victims will take longer and be much more complex.
“It could take many, many years before anybody gets a penny of this, and it all depends, too, on how much the executors want to fight it,” says Gerry Beyer, a law professor at Texas Tech University and an expert in estate planning, wills and trusts. “The number of unanswered questions is beyond phenomenal.”
Two longtime employees of Epstein were named as executors, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn. The alternative executor is a biotech venture capitalist, Boris Nikolic, who said he was "shocked" to have been named and will forgo the responsibility if he should be called on. The executors will pursue any claims against the estate and ensure that the remaining assets are received by the trust beneficiary, which were not named in the will.
Bridget Crawford, a professor at Pace Law School teaching wills, trusts, and estates, said that, “The bottom line is a probate court in the Virgin Islands isn’t going to allow a dime to go out of that estate—to you, to me, to the trust—until the claims are settled, so this thing is going to be tied up for years. We may never know who the beneficiaries of that trust are, but it doesn’t matter from the perspective of the civil claimants.”
See Katie Reilly, What Jeffrey Epstein’s Last-Minute Will Means for Accusers Trying to Recover Money From His Estate, August 20, 2019.