The executor of O.J. Simpson’s estate is taking decisive steps to prevent a $33.5 million payout, mandated by a California civil jury almost three decades ago, from being awarded to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The judgment followed a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families after the tragic murders of Brown Simpson and Goldman.

Simpson’s will, filed in a Clark County court in Nevada on April 12, two days after his death, appointed his longtime attorney Malcolm LaVergne as executor. The will disclosed that Simpson’s assets had been placed into a trust established earlier this year.

LaVergne, who has represented Simpson since 2009, expressed his firm intent to prevent the Goldman family from receiving any money from the estate. Speaking with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, LaVergne stated his determination to ensure that the Goldmans “get zero, nothing,” and vowed to use his authority as executor to achieve that goal.

The total value of Simpson’s estate remains undetermined, and under Nevada law, any estate exceeding $20,000 in assets must go through probate court proceedings. This legal process could impact the distribution of Simpson’s remaining assets.

In 1994, the brutal murders of Brown Simpson and Goldman at her Los Angeles home shocked the nation. Simpson was soon identified as a person of interest, leading to a dramatic low-speed chase broadcast live on television, as his former teammate Al Cowlings drove Simpson in a white Ford Bronco across Los Angeles before his eventual surrender.

Although Simpson was acquitted of the murders in a highly publicized trial, he was found liable for their wrongful deaths in a 1996 civil lawsuit. The jury awarded the families over $33 million in damages, a sum largely unpaid by Simpson at the time of his death.

Fred Goldman, the lead plaintiff and father of Ron Goldman, has always emphasized that the lawsuit was about accountability, not money. Following Simpson’s death, Goldman acknowledged that the prospect of true accountability died with him.

As Simpson’s estate goes through probate, the Goldman and Brown families might have claims to his remaining assets – alongside other creditors. The trust created in January specifies that any beneficiary contesting the will’s provisions will receive only one dollar, potentially complicating the families’ efforts to claim their due share.

This situation underscores the importance of strategic estate planning – especially when legal judgments and potential claims from creditors are involved. Proper estate planning can shield assets, manage liabilities, and ensure the decedent’s wishes are honored while minimizing conflict among heirs. For high-profile individuals like Simpson, or even for those with complex financial and familial situations, engaging in comprehensive estate planning can prevent prolonged legal battles and ensure a more orderly and equitable distribution of assets; this includes setting up trusts, clearly defining beneficiaries, and considering potential challenges to the will.

For those interested in pursuing this process, Appraisal Economics offers leading estate valuation services required for IRS reporting purposes.