It all started back in 2010 when 48-year-old multimillionaire Floridian John Goodman was involved in a drunk driving accident that resulted in a 23-year-old man’s death. Mr. Goodman ran a stop sign, struck the other car and then fled the scene. Goodman stands to not only be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence if convicted, but can also have his fortune stripped from him under a wrongful death lawsuit.
In a legal move designed to protect at least some of his fortune, Mr. Goodman recently adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend. Why? Because much of Mr. Goodman’s fortune is owned by an irrevocable trust he set up to benefit his two teenage children. The trust, now worth an estimated $400 million, is overseen by a third-party trustee. The two children are not able to choose how to use the funds until they reach the age of 35. By adopting his adult girlfriend, she would automatically be entitled to one third of the trust and could potentially give that to Mr. Goodman.
However, a Florida probate judge recently ruled that the normally untouchable irrevocable trust could now be subject to a wrongful death lawsuit because of Mr. Goodman’s adoption. In a further twist, a lawyer for the two children has asked the judge to rule that the adoption was fraudulent, and therefore that the trust funds should once again be untouchable. We’ll keep you posted about this strange and changing story.