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While you can no longer be the subject or defendant in a lawsuit after your death, your estate can be.
The Trump family is in the news again, this time because of a lawsuit related to the estate of the president’s late brother, Robert Trump, the president himself, and their sister, Maryanne Trump Barry. The lawsuit filed by Donald Trump’s niece, Mary L. Trump, alleges that the defendants, including the executor of Robert Trump’s estate, committed fraud and breached their fiduciary duties related to Mary’s share of the family business, which passed to her at the death of her father, Fred Trump, Jr.
The complaint, which contains eight separate causes of action including fraudulent and negligent acts, conspiracy, and breach of fiduciary duty, alleges that the defendants perpetrated a fraud that spanned decades, from 1981 to 2001.
Three separate schemes described in Mary’s lawsuit allege that the defendants siphoned the value of Mary’s share to interests owned and controlled by the defendants, devalued those interests through fraudulent appraisals, kept net income low through fraudulent financial statements, and ultimately forced Mary to negotiate by threatening to bankrupt her interests and by threatening to cancel a healthcare policy on Fred Trump III’s infant son. She further alleged that she was provided with fraudulent valuations and financial statements and was coerced into signing documents including a written agreement memorializing the fraud.
The interests that were part of this alleged fraud include interests in an irrevocable Trust and in the estate of Fred Trump, Jr. Mary alleges that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties as trustees and executors.
While the alleged misconduct occurred decades ago, Mary stated that it only came to light in October 2018 when the New York Times began an investigative report. It is possible that these claims will be time barred by statutes of limitation, but it is not unheard of for fraud claims to be considered and determined many years after the fact.
It is not clear at this point what the outcome of this lawsuit will be. Due to the high-profile nature of the parties, this case will likely receive continued media attention.
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