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Florida court overturns millionaire’s adoption of girlfriend

Estate planning is a good way to be sure your loved ones are taken care of, and that your wishes are fulfilled after your death. Setting aside some of your assets into a well-executed trust can further ensure the beneficiaries will receive what you wish for them to have, without being abused or misused. Sadly, many people will attempt to abuse trusts in order to get their hands on money that wasn’t meant for them, or to use it in a manner that was not written into the trust’s terms.

It appeared a Texas air conditioning heir attempted to access his two teenage children’s trust fund that he’d set up himself. While facing a criminal trial in Florida for killing someone while allegedly driving drunk, it was revealed that the millionaire had adopted his longtime girlfriend. He didn’t tell anyone about the adoption until the objection period had ended. His attorney says the adoption was for the purposes of estate planning, but the Miami appeals court said it was fraud.

Under the terms of the adoption contract, the man’s girlfriend would have been paid $16.75 million over her lifetime, and could potentially allow her access to the trust fund the man had set up for his children, worth over $300 million. The trustee, the man’s ex-wife, filed a lawsuit asking Miami courts to overturn the adoption. The courts said by keeping the adoption a secret, the man violated his ex-wife’s and children’s right to due process.

Solid trust planning is essential to protect its assets and provide a good financial future for loved ones. In the event someone is attempting to illegally get around the terms of a trust, there are laws to protect the beneficiaries.

Source: El Paso Inc., “Judges say millionaire can’t adopt girlfriend,” Mike Tolson, Mar. 31, 2013

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