Judge Daniel Hall ruled Friday that Alex Murdaugh had indeed violated a court order when he attempted to preserve family assets by waiving his right to his wife’s estate earlier this year.
Murdaugh, however, won’t face sanctions for the violation — because he’s already in jail and has no access to his own money.
In March, FITSNews first reported that Murdaugh had filed a waiver with Colleton County Probate Court disclaiming his rights to Maggie Murdaugh’s estate, which includes the family’s Edisto Beach house and their Moselle hunting grounds.
The move was a bold one considering that Murdaugh knew his assets had been frozen by the court in November, barring him from such action — and because he’s an attorney, albeit a suspended one.
Both properties in Maggie’s estate have since been listed for sale and reportedly have buyers lined up. Moselle — which has been rebranded Cross Swamp Farm — is listed at $3.9 million; and the Edisto Beach home is listed at $920,000.
In November, Hall ordered a temporary injunction on Alex Murdaugh’s and his son Buster’s assets and appointed a receivership to account for their finances.
The request for this action came from Allendale attorney Mark Tinsley of Gooding and Gooding, who represents the estate of Mallory Beach in a 2019 wrongful death case. Beach was killed in a boat crash, for which Paul Murdaugh — Alex Murdaugh’s now-deceased younger son — was charged with three felony counts of boating under the influence.
The temporary injunction bars Alex and Buster Murdaugh from “hiding, concealing, misappropriating, selling, encumbering, transferring, impairing the value of and otherwise disposing of any of [their assets] in whole or in part, during the pendency and through the final resolution of the lawsuit.”
In a motion filed with the court in March, the receivers — John T. Lay and Peter McCoy — argued that Murdaugh’s disclaimer of “inherited assets” was a violation of the November order and warranted sanctions against him.
“A disclaimer of interest in an estate’s assets is, in effect, a transfer of assets from the original inheriting party to the decedent’s secondary beneficiaries.”
The motion, which called the waiver attempt “void,” stated: “Alex Murdaugh, and other persons acting on his behalf, are prohibited from directly and indirectly transferring or otherwise disposing of Alex Murdaugh’s Assets.”
Maggie Murdaugh’s estate would likely pass to their surviving son Buster. Though Buster is a defendant in several lawsuits, the motion noted, “based on the Receivers’ investigation thus far, it is apparent that Alex Murdaugh likely has significantly more creditors and larger debts than Buster Murdaugh.”
Lay and McCoy contended that Alex Murdaugh signed away his rights to the estate “with the belief that Buster Murdaugh’s debts would be less than those of Alex Murdaugh and thus the assets from Maggie’s Estate may be preserved for Buster Murdaugh in some portion.”
They called this an “improper preference” and said it violated the terms and intended purpose of the receivership order.
“The Receivers are continuing to investigate and learn more about additional possible creditors. Suffice it to say, if the Disclaimer is allowed to remain in place, such creditors may be left with little to no ability to collect alleged damages.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Liz Farrell is the new executive editor at FITSNews. She was named 2018’s top columnist in the state by South Carolina Press Association and is back after taking a nearly two-year break from corporate journalism to reclaim her soul. Email her at [email protected] or tweet her @ElizFarrell.
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