One of the stranger legal stories to pop up recently is the tale of Floridian and millionaire John Goodman. In 2010, Mr. Goodman was in a fatal car accident that left another man dead. After fleeing the scene, Mr. Goodman was arrested under suspicion of drunk driving and faces criminal charges that could leave him in jail for up to 30 years. He’s also facing a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of the crash victim.
Much of Mr. Goodman’s Wells is owned by an irrevocable trust he had previously established to benefit his two teenage children. The trust requires that the children must reach the age of 35 before they can choose how to distribute the more than $400 million trust assets for themselves.
This is where Mr. Goodman’s 42-year-old girlfriend comes in to the story. Mr. Goodman legally adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend late in 2011. Though the adoption is currently being challenged by attorneys for Mr. Goodman’s other two children, because his girlfriend is now legally his child, she too stands to benefit from the trust and is entitled to one third. Also, because she is over the age limit imposed by the trust, she can determine for herself how to use her portion and may even give part of it to Mr. Goodman.
The legal move has drawn much scrutiny, and though it was first seen as a possible way for Mr. Goodman to avoid losing his entire fortune, it appears as if the court will either allow the drunk driving victim’s family to seek the normally untouchable trust funds in their lawsuit, or it may rule that the adoption was fraudulent.