Topics we are going to discuss today: OJ Simpson’s estate, the Goldmans, and creditor claims in California probate.

I have talked about this over the years as it’s long been a point I have made with clients. You can take steps that give you creditor protection in your estate planning but if a person wants your money bad enough they can chase you to the ends of the earth. The Goldmans probably don’t even “need” the money but, obviously, their pursuit of OJ had nothing to do with money. They wanted a small piece of revenge for what they believe OJ did to their son and they even got a civil judgement against OJ in their favor.

That last point is key… OJ escaped the criminal trial because the glove did not fit… but he lost the civil trial. As you may know the civil trial had a lower burden of proof and thus establishing guilt was easier. Not to say OJ for sure “did it” but….

Really a tragic life! He was essentially a superhero to a significant percentage of Americans. I grew up in a very pro-UCLA house yet I had a Buffalo Bills #32 shirt – that of one of the most famous USC alumni of all time. My parents were not just UCLA fans but they were anti-USC fans. They lived the motto of my favorite team is UCLA and whoever is playing U$C. However, they bought me that OJ shirt! OJ was larger than life!

OJ was an actor in the Hertz commercials of the 1970’s and then had an epic role in the Police Squad movies. Plus, other roles in Hollywood.

I didn’t even mention his football play! SF Community College, U$C, Buffalo Bills, and then he limped through a few games with the hometown San Francisco 49ers. One of the greatest running backs in the history of the sport!

Fast forward to today and OJ Simpson is dead. Let’s bring it full circle to the probate world. First of all, he died a resident of Nevada and I am not a Nevada attorney. I do not know what the Nevada asset protection laws are nor do I know what the Nevada laws are regarding creditors after death. However, I do know that reading this article makes me think that OJ’s chosen executor of his estate is making this a personal battle! He’s rivaling the Goldman’s in making things personal it sounds like.

Here’s a link to the ESPN article. I encourage you to read it. In this article it says:

LaVergne, who had represented Simpson since 2009, said he specifically didn’t want the Goldman family seeing any money from Simpson’s estate.

“It’s my hope that the Goldmans get zero, nothing,” he told the Review-Journal. “Them specifically. And I will do everything in my capacity as the executor or personal representative to try and ensure that they get nothing.”

Now I am not involved in this case but I can assure you I would strongly advise against an executor, or an attorney, going public with such strong statements. If he must go public perhaps he should say, “I am saddened by the loss of my friend OJ and will do everything, carefully following my fiduciary duties and Nevada law, to carry out OJ’s wishes.” The key words being: 1) fiduciary and 2) law.

When you are the executor, or personal representative, or trustee, you have a fiduciary duty. This is the highest duty. This is one where you don’t just handle things like you would handle your own affairs but actually handle them with much more caution and care. Then, the LAW… oh ya, there are Nevada laws on probate and creditors. While there is always some gray area there is also a lot of black and white, written, and established LAWS! He needs to follow those laws!

I assume Mr. LaVergne, as Personal Representative, will hire highly experienced legal counsel. That is, a Nevada attorney with significant probate experience. If this were a California case I would love to chat with him as this would definitely be in our wheel house. However, we can’t help with a Nevada probate unless there are California issues which I assume there are not.

I don’t have a pony in this race. Whoever wins shall win. My sympathies to all the families who have lost loved ones here… including OJ’s family! That’s one thing that’s important to remember… that even if OJ did it… his kids did not. It’s a crappy situation all the way around!


-John Palley, The California Probate Attorney


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