Vegas Shooter’s Estate May Be Assigned to Public Administrator
Jan. 23, 2018
Used to be a mass-shooting was something that sadly occurred once or twice a year in the U.S. Now, tragically, such shootings are weekly events.
With this in mind, we noted that probate litigation instantly entangled Las Vegas mass-shooter Stephen Paddock’s estate. Most mass-murderers have little or no estate to administer.
In Paddock’s case, a platoon of lawyers wrangled for control of the estate, the size of which is a hotly contested topic of his own right. Some estimates value the decedent’s estate at over five million.
Separate from Paddock’s estate, more than $22 million is available for the shooting victims. Some of the lawyers representing those victims suggest folding the estate into the victims’ fund.
Victims’ lawyers are seeking to prevent Paddock’s heirs from benefiting from any estate distributions. Along these lines, the shooter’s family has promised not to make any claim to the decedent’s estate. Under Nevada law, Paddock’s estate would go to his mother.
Also, some have suggested a public administrator -a professional fiduciary- not related to the family should be appointed to administer Paddock’s estate. Probate court judges frequently use public administrators in high-profile and high-conflict cases.
Because a public administrator is neutral, they are ideal to administer and clean-up problem cases. Also, basic fiduciary duties and rules apply to public administrators.
In the Paddock case, the local public administrator first declined the nomination to serve; then changed his mind and indicated a willingness to administrate this hot-potato of an estate.
With the issue unresolved, the Clark County probate court has scheduled more hearings to address these and other problems in the case.
Selecting an appropriate person to administer a decedent’s estate is an important decision. Sometimes, however, as in the case of Stephen Paddock, a probate judge may trump the decedent’s selection.
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