Jeffrey Epstein signed a will just two days before he died by suicide, court records say

Adrianna Rodriguez

Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein signed a will just two days before he died by suicide in a New York jail, new court records show, leaving behind an estate valued at more than $577 million, including more than $56 million in cash.

The 66-year-old's death was ruled a suicide by hanging last week by New York's chief medical examiner. 

The will was filed last week with court officials in the U.S. Virgin Islands and listed no details of beneficiaries, according to the New York Post.

Court papers filed in St. Thomas reveal that Epstein, a former hedge-fund manager, was worth about $18 million more than what he stated in court papers while trying to land bail for federal sex-trafficking charges related to underage girls, the newspaper reported.

Epstein put all of his holdings in a trust, called The 1953 Trust, which a law expert told The New York Times may have been an attempt to keep his financial dealings from public scrutiny. 

“It avoids prying eyes because the trust is private,” Patrick D. Goodman, a probate law expert at the University of California, Los Angeles law school, told the Times. 

Epstein signed the 21-page document Aug. 8. Less than 48 hours later, he was found unresponsive in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he was awaiting trial.

He named Darren K. Indyke and Richard D. Kahn, two longtime associates, as the executors and his brother, Mark Epstein, as the single remaining heir, according to the Times. 

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The existence of the will raised new questions about Epstein's final days inside the Manhattan detention center.

Lawyers, representing women who claim they were sexually abused by Epstein when they were teenagers, were closely following the existence of a will.

Several attorneys vowed to go after his assets even if the will had named beneficiaries, as Epstein's death means there will be no trial on the criminal charges against him. One woman filed suit against the estate last week, claiming Epstein repeatedly raped her when she was a teenager.

"Give his entire estate to his victims. It is the only justice they can get," one of those lawyers, Lisa Bloom, wrote in an email. "And they deserve it. And on behalf of the Epstein victims I represent, I intend to fight for it."

Former federal prosecutor David S. Weinstein, who is now in private practice in Miami but not involved in the Epstein case, said states and U.S. territories have certain time frames within which to make a claim against someone's estate.

"There are certainly going to be a lot of lawyers involved," Weinstein said. "It's not going to be over any time soon."

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Epstein owned a Caribbean island, homes in Paris and New York City, a New Mexico ranch and a fleet of high-priced cars.

Epstein had more than $112 million worth of equities, according to the will, and nearly $200 million in "hedge funds & private equity investments." Among the properties that will be subject to appraisal and valuation are his collection of fine arts, antiques and other collectibles.

As part of his 2008 plea deal to Florida state charges, Epstein made undisclosed financial settlements with dozens of his victims. It's unclear how those settlements might affect any claims made on his estate.

William Blum, an attorney for Epstein's estate, said in a statement to The Associated Press that any debts or claims against the estate will be "fairly administered." He said the document was Epstein's original last will.

Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jeffrey Epstein signed will two days before suicide, records show