Professor Cheryl Bader was quoted in an Associated Press article that examines how the will that Jeffrey Epstein signed two days before his death could make it harder for his accusers to collect damages.
By putting his fortune in a trust, he shrouded from public view the identities of the beneficiaries, whether they be individuals, organizations or other entities. For the women trying to collect from his estate, the first order of business will be persuading a judge to pierce that veil and release the details.
From there, the women will have to follow the course they would have had to pursue even if Epstein had not created a trust: convince the judge that they are entitled to compensation as victims of sex crimes. The judge would have to decide how much they should get and whether to reduce the amounts given to Epstein’s named beneficiaries, who would also be given their say in court.
One other possibility is that the U.S. government will seek civil forfeiture of Epstein’s properties or other assets on the grounds that they were used for criminal purposes. Government lawyers would have to produce strong evidence of that at a trial-like proceeding.
If they prevailed, they would be able to seize the properties, sell them and distribute the proceeds to victims.
“The fact that there is a will should not stop them,” said Cheryl Bader, a professor at the Fordham University School of Law.
Additional media coverage on this topic:
Epstein’s Will Includes Massive Trust Fund, Could Stall Accusers From Collecting Damages
Jeffrey Epstein’s Newly Created Will Could Take Years to Open and Pay Out Damages