Although O.J. Simpson was acquitted in what may have been the murder trial of the century in connection with the death of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, a California civil jury determined he was liable for $33.5 million dollars (which is now over $114 million due to interest accrued) for O.J.’s actions in their wrongful death.  O.J. moved to a debtor-friendly state (Florida) and (from his book described below) only paid $133,000 of the judgment against him.  So, can the Brown and Goldman families collect the balance of judgment from O.J.’s estate?

O.J. lived in Nevada at the time of his death.  O.J. set up a trust which in many states (like Texas) would avoid the probate process (where the court will determine if a will is valid and an executor is then approved).  The executor has the duty to pay debts before distributing assets.  Creditors usually make claims for the amount due through a process which varies by state.  It is also possible that other states may be involved if O.J. owned property outside of Nevada.  O.J. owned a home in Florida.

Although O.J. established a trust which normally avoids probate, Nevada law requires probate (going to court) if the assets of the deceased are more than $20,000, or if the deceased owned real estate then the will must be filed within 30 days.  Otherwise, creditors can probate the will.

There are generally 2 types of creditors – secured and unsecured.  Usually, secured creditors have priority as to payment.

Typical examples of a secured creditor are if there is a security document (i.e. deed of trust or mortgage on real estate) or judgment lien.  As a result of the judgment lien by the Brown and Goldman families, the estates of the victims should be secured creditors.

The executor of O.J.’s estate initially planned to fight and publicly stated he doesn’t plan on paying anything to the Brown and Goldman families.  However, he has since backed off that statement.

At the time of this writing, the amount of assets O.J. owned is unknown (although Celebrity Net Worth has stated he had a net worth of $3 million) or what type of trust he created.  It should be noted that his name, image and likeness would be part of his estate.  So, future movies or the use of likeness could generate future revenue to his estate.

Although most create revocable trusts to avoid probate and maintain privacy, some create different types of irrevocable trusts for creditor protection.  However, if you have an existing creditor (as in this case) or if there is a threatened claim, then transfers to an irrevocable trust can be set aside as a fraudulent conveyance.  If O.J. created an offshore trust, odds of collection would be reduced since U.S. law is not recognized.  O.J.’s establishment of a trust will make it more difficult for a creditor to collect so it is anticipated that it will take a long time before this case is resolved (even longer than O.J.’s murder trial).

O.J.’s executor initially wanted to fight payment to the Brown and Goldman families since he thinks there was never a court order to force the payment of the civil judgment and the Goldman family won control of the book “If I did it: Confessions of the Killer” (originally titled “O.J. Simpson: If I did it, here’s how it happened”) by O.J. when O.J. filed for bankruptcy.  The book was about how O.J. would have killed Brown and Goldman if he was the killer.

If interested in learning more about this article or other estate planning, Medicaid and public benefits planning, probate, etc., attend one of our free upcoming Estate Planning Essentials workshops by clicking here or calling 214-720-0102. We make it simple to attend and it is without obligation.

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