One of Jeffrey Epstein’s final acts will make it even harder for those suing him for alleged sexual abuse to ever get a penny of Epstein’s millions.
“He is in some way as brilliant in death as he was in life — an evil genius,” James Marsh, a lawyer for two Epstein accusers, told the Post.
Marsh said that by filing his will in the Virgin Islands, lawyers representing women who claimed Epstein preyed upon them must navigate a separate court system.
Further, lawsuits targeting Epstein must now be refiled to target his estate.
Epstein signs a new will days before his suicide? Staggering negligence. If my clients who were abused by this monster and I have to pursue his estate to the US VI then so be it. They are entitled to full and fair compensation and we intend to deliver it. https://t.co/5rNVD35oox
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) August 20, 2019
At least five women have filed suit against Epstein, alleging sexual abuse.
“We’re representing the interests of victims who were abused at one level, and now feel as though there’s a second level of mistreatment in the untimely and unfair death of the person who had originally abused them,” attorney Stan Pottinger told Time.
The battle to get a piece of Epstein’s estate is complicated because the $578 million Epstein left was put in a trust.
“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,” Gerry Beyer, a law professor at Texas Tech University, told Time.
“The number of unanswered questions is beyond phenomenal.”
Beyer said it is not yet clear how much of Epstein’s estate had been put into a trust before his Aug. 10 death in a Manhattan jail. The death has been ruled a suicide.
If all of Epstein’s assets were shuffled into a trust before he died, accusers would need to successfully sue the trust to have assets moved back into Epstein’s estate before they could get any cash.
“It is only the property that he was able to successfully put into his trust prior to his death that might have obstacles put before the accusers,” Beyer said. “Anything that reached the trust legally, they have to get back out of the trust somehow before they can reach it.”
“I would assume it was set up in such a way as to put obstacles for people attempting to recover,” he said.
The matter is muddied by what officials in the Virgin Islands will allow, said Pace Law School professor Bridget Crawford, who teaches about wills, trusts and estates.
“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,” she told Time.
As experts debated the ins and outs of how the trust and Virgin Islands filing would impact efforts by victims to collect, there was a consensus that the battle has a long way to go.
“There are certainly going to be a lot of lawyers involved,” David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor, told The Guardian.
“It’s not going to be over any time soon.”
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