Florida residents enjoy the protection of homestead exemptions used by some full-time residents as part of asset protection strategies. These exemptions are also used to protect wealth from legal obligations
According to an article in Wealth Advisor, “The Juice Is Loose, Did O.J.'s Kids Hide Millions From Murder Families? O.J. Simpson’s kids are rumored to be snapping up real estate and making cash deals in Florida. Could this be a way to protect his money from the civil lawsuit brought by the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman?
Experts say that if the Juice had transferred his $10 million fortune into a structure to protect it from creditors, he may not have had to resort to the shady memorabilia sales that landed him in jail. If he’d also put more thought into his estate planning, he’d have had his attorney draft a prenuptial contract for his marriage. Instead, he had to pay her $2 million in cash and child support in the divorce.
His wife’s death and that of her friend Ron Goldman all but ended his post-football career, as endorsement deals and paid appearances went away. He retired at age 46, which isn’t unheard of for NFL players. However, when the families initiated a civil suit, his retirement savings became vulnerable to what was to be a $33 million lien on his assets and future earnings.
Simpson’s lawyers tried to find any options remaining. For example, a trust in a certain state could’ve kept his money invulnerable. However, that takes foresight, and that time had passed. O.J.’s lawyers moved $4 million of his money into ERISA-protected retirement accounts and moved his domicile to Florida, so he could keep a house, even in bankruptcy. That worked OK for a while. He didn’t work, and the families seized all the assets they could. But they only clawed back a few million dollars, so his retirement seemed largely assured.
O.J.’s children were permitted to cash his memorabilia checks to make his house payments. However, they spent the money instead. Therefore, the bank foreclosed on the Florida property, and no one knows if any of the pension money was ever deposited.
The kids purchased $500,000 in investment property in St. Petersburg over the last few years for cash. It’s not clear if the money came from O.J.’s NFL pension checks. If it’s deemed a gift, there’s a chance that the families can’t claim they were cheated, provided the “gifts” were documented and structured correctly.
It’s possible that O.J. has not received the best financial or estate planning advice. Florida’s homestead laws protect a primary residence, not investment properties. Buying a new home for his retirement then letting the kids inherit the real estate after he dies, might have been a better strategy.
Reference: Wealth Advisor (August 6, 2017) “The Juice Is Loose, Did O.J.'s Kids Hide Millions From Murder Families?”