Man Protects Wealth From Lawsuit by Adopting His 42-Year-Old Girlfriend

Alden Wicker

Pop quiz: You’re wealthy and getting sued for a wrongful death. How do you protect your money from falling into the hands of the plaintiff?

a. Give everything to charity
b. Move your money into a hidden offshore account
c. Adopt your girlfriend

Wait, what?

Add this interesting tactic to the list of ways the wealthy protect their money: A 48-year-old polo club owner in Florida has legally adopted his adult girlfriend as his daughter, in what many say is an attempt to shield his assets ahead of a civil lawsuit.

John Goodman is being sued by the parents of a 23-year-old who he hit and killed when he ran a red light in February 2010, according to the sheriff’s report. The trial is set to start on March 27th.

His prospects don’t look good. Goodman was driving with a blood-alcohol limit at twice the legal limit the night of the crash. He also faces criminal charges, including DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of the crash, for which he could face 30 years in prison.

Will It Work?

While it’s not totally clear what Goodman’s motivations were in adopting his 42-year-old girlfriend, the judge on the case had already ruled that a trust for Goodman’s two minor children could not be considered as part of his financial worth by the jury. Now his girlfriend/daughter is entitled to a third of that trust, and since she is over 35, she can begin drawing from it immediately.

Goodman’s civil attorney told the press in a vague statement that the adoption was to ensure the financial stability of his children, “and has nothing to do with the lawsuit.” Cue raised eyebrows.

Then again, the ploy may not even work, since the judge on the case may rule that the girlfriend is not a legitimate beneficiary under the trust. Then Goodman will just have a very conflicted relationship with his girlfriend/daughter.

More From LearnVest

Trust funds aren’t only for the rich. Find out how you could use one.
The top 1% in New York City can’t seem to make ends meet. Yes. Really.
As the Facebook IPO approaches, check out the surprising people who are about to get very rich.

Posted in: ,
  • ivessevi

    I dont’ think this article if of any value to your readers. To give attention to such questionably MORAL actions is tabloid like.

  • Info

    If Goodman’s little ploy works, he’ll get to hear all the chatter about “adoption-incest” with his so-called “daughter”. Disgusting.

  • Marie

    I joined your newsletter for savvy financial advice – this article holds very little value. 

  • Vicki

    I understand the other commenters’ points about this article not having a ton of value or savvy financial advice but as someone who reads almost every one of LV’s articles, it’s nice to have something a little lighter every once in a while. My mind can only absorb so many tips so it’s nice to take a little mental break!

  • June Welsh

    We had a dog-mauling case here in San Francisco a few years ago where 2 dogs, owned by husband & wife attorneys, basically ripped their next door neighbor lady to shreds.  I remember hearing how the couple had adopted 2 of their adult clients who were in jail serving life sentences; and wondered how one goes about having some rich dude/dudette adopt me & give me lots of money (since I’ve no family money to inherit!) – heck, I’m a good person, I’ve never even been arrested!  Well, now I know I’ve got to find me some rich, but ethically dodgy, Polo Club owner, or some rich & childless attorneys!  Wonder where the nearest Polo Club is…!!
    Her (biological) parents must be SO PROUD!!!

  • MahtaMouse

    Did NO ONE notice the follow-up article below it?!?  “Trust funds aren’t only for the rich. Find out how you could use one.”  Yah, I’d say the artical WAS relevant!

  • ArtSpot

    I hope the girlfriend/daughter takes all the money & splits!