An appellate Court in Florida struck down John Goodman’s attempt to adopt his 43 year old girlfriend. The Court cited fraud on the part of Goodman as their basis for the decision. You may remember John Goodman from earlier posts. Good man, 49, is an heir to the Goodman air conditioning fortune. Goodman was convicted for his hit and run, killing a young man on a motorcycle. He is appealing his 16 year prison sentence.
The story drew national attention when Goodman attempted to adopt his 43 year old girlfriend in order to shield his assets from a civil judgment. Goodman’s girlfriend would have been a 1/3 beneficiary of the $300 million trust that benefits his children, both under 18 years of age.
The trust for his children was created before the hit and run, and therefore the trust assets are protected from any judgment against Goodman. By adopting his girlfriend, Goodman would particularly become a beneficiary of the trust himself.
The Court struck down the adoption because Goodman intentionally hid the plans for the adoption from his ex-wife, the children’s mother legal guardian, until after the adoption appeals process had passed. The fraud nullified the adoption and puts Goodman back where he started, without access to the protected trust assets.
This story further demonstrates that you cannot use estate and trust planning as a way to protect yourself for your own negligence. If you have questions regrading estate or trust planning, please contact the experienced attorneys at Ford + Bergner LLP today.