The arrest in New Orleans of suspected murderer Robert Durst is making the headlines every day as he tries to defeat probable cause and other legal issues that keep him in jail -but there is another interesting question: “What happens to his money?”
Durst was paid off by his family, so to speak, with a once-only payment of $65 million which has reportedly grown to around $100 million. How all of that happened is another story. There are three interesting questions here: how did Durst access his money while on the run, what can you spend in jail, and what precautions can estate planners use when drafting trusts?
First of all, apparently while he is in jail he can only spend something like $300 a month for toiletries and snacks. For someone who probably has an income of over a million per year, that has to be a bitter pill.
Secondly, while he was on the run and trying to hide, how did he access his money? He couldn’t use credit cards and he couldn’t just show up at the bank and ask for money. If he did, it would be an immediate tip-off as to his location. Instead, he apparently started stockpiling money he had already received and even mailing fairly large sums of cash to himself in order to always have it available when he needed it.
Finally, the issue of trusts and what happens when income accumulates and there is no way to distribute the income? The fiduciaries managing trust assets in this case must have been pretty nervous. Durst was well-known as beating one murder case and being on the run while prosecutors across the country tried to figure out a way to get him on the other charges. There just wasn’t enough proof until Durst made the mistake of agreeing to appear in a documentary about himself that ended up revealing some new evidence that resulting in an arrest warrant from California. Meanwhile, Durst awaits a decision as to whether he will be prosecuted in Louisiana on weapons and drug charges.
Although it certainly doesn’t come up that often, attorneys drafting trusts need to give some thought about what happens when a beneficiary turns out bad and in jail. Should they lose their rights under the trust? Should there be an alternate way to handle income?