Former NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez set up a trust before his prison suicide earlier this year, and that it may have been intended to provide money for his young daughter, money that couldn’t be accessed by creditors, a report from the Boston Herald on Tuesday alleges.
The Herald reports that in documents filed to the Bristol County (Mass.) Probate and Family Court by the attorney for Hernandez’s estate, there is listed the “AJH Irrevocable Trust.”
Irrevocable trusts are meant to protect their beneficiaries from claims by creditors and others because the creator of the trust relinquishes ownership and control of the assets included within.
It’s believed that Hernandez’s estate did not leave much, if anything, for his daughter, who is now 5; at the time the New England Patriots released Hernandez in 2013, the day he was arrested for murdering Odin Lloyd, the team had paid him more than $9 million of the $40 million contract he’d signed a year earlier.
John Dugan, the attorney who represents Hernandez’s estate, warned in the filings in Bristol County that the estate “will probably be insolvent.” Debts totaling $2.82 million were listed in documents, while declaring only $1.2 million in assets.
Last week, the Boston law firm that helped Hernandez set up the trust was ordered by Judge Richard J. McMahon to turn over confidential documents and related materials to Dugan. A closed-door hearing was held, but all present are under a gag order, and a recording of the hearing was impounded by McMahon.
Another attorney, Matthew Berlin, who is a trustee of the Hernandez trust, declined to tell the Boston Herald when the trust was created, whether Hernandez was named as a trustee, and how much it is worth. He did confirm that any assets protected are “not part of the probate estate,” the target of legal bills, tax liens and three wrongful death suits.
However, a Massachusetts lawyer not connected to the Hernandez case told the Herald that while terms of an irrevocable trust are “virtually set in stone” once signed, a court can undo the trust under Massachusetts’ fraudulent conveyance act if you were having credit problems at the time you were trying to hide assets and name someone else as a trustee.
Earlier this month, the 7,100 square foot home in North Attleboro, Massachusetts that Hernandez shared with his longtime partner, Shayanna Jenkins, and their daughter, Avielle, who was born on her father’s 23rd birthday, sold to a real estate investor for $1 million.
The home, which the buyer said had fallen into disrepair and needed extensive renovations, had been listed at $1.3 million.
Hernandez was serving a life sentence for killing Lloyd in 2013 but had just been acquitted in a double-murder trial from a 2012 case when he committed suicide in his prison cell on April 19.
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