Reports say that the former New England Patriots player set up an irrevocable trust prior to taking his own life, but a closed-door hearing and a gag order may keep many facts from being made public.
According to Yahoo, in “Report: Aaron Hernandez may have hidden money in trust before his death,” Aaron Hernandez, the former NFL tight end, created a trust before committing suicide in prison in early 2017. The article quotes a report from the Boston Herald that alleges that the trust may have been created to provide for his young daughter. Court documents filed in the Bristol County (Mass.) Probate and Family Court by the attorney for Hernandez’s estate list the “AJH Irrevocable Trust.”
Irrevocable trusts aim to shield their beneficiaries from claims by creditors and others, because the trust relinquishes ownership and control of the trust assets.
Many say that Hernandez’s estate didn’t leave much, if anything, for his five-year-old daughter when the New England Patriots released him in 2013. He was released on the day he was arrested for murdering Odin Lloyd. New England paid him more than $9 million of the $40 million contract he’d signed a year earlier.
John Dugan, the attorney who represents the Hernandez estate, said the estate “will probably be insolvent.” Hernandez had debts of $2.82 million listed, while declaring only $1.2 million in assets. The Boston law firm that helped Hernandez create the trust, was ordered by a judge to turn over confidential documents and related materials to Dugan.
Another attorney, a trustee of the trust, declined to tell the media when the trust was created, whether Hernandez was named as a trustee and how much it’s worth. However, he did confirm that any assets protected are “not part of the probate estate,” which is the target of legal bills, tax liens and three wrongful death suits.
Although the terms of an irrevocable trust are virtually set in stone once it’s signed, a probate judge can undo the trust under Massachusetts’ fraudulent conveyance law, if the creator of the trust was experiencing credit problems, trying to hide assets and naming someone else as a trustee.
One large asset that Hernandez shared with his partner of many years and their daughter was a home, which was sold for $1 million. Originally listed at $1.3 million, the home had fallen into disrepair and needed a lot of work.
When Hernandez committed suicide in his prison cell on April 19, 2017, he had been serving a life sentence for murdering Odin Lloyd.
Reference: Yahoo (November 28, 2017) “Report: Aaron Hernandez may have hidden money in trust before his death”