couple on bench at mansion

Adoption Used as Bizarre Asset Protection Strategy

One of the strangest stories of the past week is that of John Goodman, the 48 year old millionaire from Florida.  He's the guy that adopted his 42 year old girlfriend so that she could get a third of his substantial financial holdings.

So, why be so elaborate?  Why not just give her a third of his holdings?  Well, Mr. Goodman is involved in a heated wrongful death lawsuit.  He is alleged to have been drunk on an evening in 2010 and drove his vehicle through a stop sign and hit 23 year old Scott Wilson, killing him.   Scott Wilson's parents are suing Mr. Goodman and claiming monetary damages.

Normally, transfers of assets during a lawsuit come under scrutiny by courts.  It seems that people that are being sued, and have the possiblity of losing assets due to the lawsuit, have a tendency to want to get rid of their assets - or transfer them to somewhere or someone "safe" for the time being.  So courts try to limit this activity.

But it seems Mr. Goodman may have found a loophole.  By adopting his girlfriend, she is now his daughter (ewww!), and therefore able to partake in his estate/trust plan as one of his "children."

Interestingly, a judge faced with an adoption decision has the final say-so on whether the adoption is granted or not.  This will be worth monitoring in the coming weeks.   Here's an article on the case...John Goodman article.