Jeffrey Epstein ‘signed a will two days before his death’
Jeffrey Epstein signed a will just two days before he killed himself in a Manhattan federal jail, leaving behind a nearly $600m (£500m) fortune, according to US media reports.
Court documents filed last week in the US Virgin Islands list no details of beneficiaries but put his estate at more than $577m (£475m), including more than $56m (£46m) in cash, the Associated Press reported.
The New York Post first reported the existence of the will, which raises new questions about Epstein‘s final days inside the Metropolitan Correctional Centre where he was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges, and opens a new legal front in what could be a years-long battle over the financier’s fortune.
His apparent signing of the document foreshadowed his 10 August suicide, a jailhouse death that has prompted multiple federal inquiries and cast a harsh light on staffing shortages at the Manhattan facility.
Epstein died of “suicide by hanging”, the New York medical examiner concluded. The former hedge fund manager was facing up to 45 years in prison under sex trafficking charges, which he denied, and was being held without bail.
‘Give his entire estate to his victims’ Epstein’s estate was put at more than £475 million (Photo: Getty)
On Monday, prosecutors moved to dismiss the indictment against Epstein but said they were considering whether to charge others with facilitating his alleged abuse of dozens of girls.
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The filing of the will, meanwhile, had been closely followed by lawyers representing women who claim they were sexually abused by Epstein years ago when they were teenagers and recruited into his residences to provide him massages.
Several lawyers vowed to go after his assets even if the will had named beneficiaries, as Epstein‘s death means there will be no trial on the criminal charges against him.
“Give his entire estate to his victims. It is the only justice they can get,” one of those lawyers, Lisa Bloom, wrote in an email. “And they deserve it. And on behalf of the Epstein victims I represent, I intend to fight for it.”
Long legal case A protest group called ‘Hot Mess’ hold up signs of Jeffrey Epstein in front of the Federal courthouse in New York in July (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Former federal prosecutor David S Weinstein, who is now in private practice in Miami but not involved in the Epstein case, said states and US territories have certain time frames within which to make a claim against someone’s estate.
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“There are certainly going to be a lot of lawyers involved,” he said. “It’s not going to be over any time soon.”
A hedge fund manager who hobnobbed with the rich and famous, Epstein owned a Caribbean island, homes in Paris and New York City, a New Mexico ranch and a fleet of high-price cars.
He had more than $112m (£92m) worth of equities, according to the will, and nearly $200m (£165m) in “hedge funds and private equity investments”.
Among the properties that will be subject to appraisal and valuation is his collection of fine arts, antiques and other collectables.
Undisclosed settlements The former hedge fund manager made undisclosed financial settlements with dozens of his victims (Photo: Getty)
As part of his 2008 plea deal to Florida state charges, Epstein made undisclosed financial settlements with dozens of his victims.
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It is unclear how those settlements might affect any new claims made on his estate.
William Blum, a lawyer for Epstein‘s estate, said in a statement to the Associated Press that any debts or claims against the estate will be “fairly administered”.
He said the document was Epstein‘s original last will.
Additional reporting from Press Association.