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New Way to Protect Your Fortune: Adopt Your Adult Girlfriend

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Switzerland’s real estate market has been booming over the past few years, thanks in large part to foreign investors. So far it’s shown few signs of trouble, while UBS’s (UBS) Swiss Real Estate Bubble Index went up in the third quarter, it showed no indication of a bubble. One major driver of the boom was foreign investors’ desire to protect some of their assets.

But what’s an investor to do if, for one reason or another, they can’t buy a home in Switzerland or, taking a page out of Mitt Romney's book, store their money in offshore accounts?

Well, Polo Club founder and current civil and criminal defendant John Goodman has come up with one solution. Recently, he adopted his girlfriend of three years.

According to the Palm Beach Post, Goodman is being sued for the wrongful death of 23-year-old Scott Patrick Wilson in a 2010 drunk driving accident (more on that here). Goodman will face a criminal trial in March.

Concerned about losing his fortune in the suit, Goodman took the unorthodox -- or to quote Judge Glenn Kelley “surreal” -- tact of making his girlfriend, 42-year-old Heather Hutchins, his daughter. Goodman is 48.

Goodman had previously set up a trust for his two minor children and Judge Kelley ruled that it would not be counted as an asset in the civil suit. Since Hutchins is over 35, and now Goodman’s daughter, she is immediately entitled to one third of the trust. The two are still dating.

Goodman’s attorney insists that the adoption had absolutely nothing to do with his client’s desire for the trust’s assets and was rather “done to ensure the future of his children and family investments.” Perhaps a poor choice of words considering the recent addition to both of those categories.

It is unclear how the adoption will shake out legally. That said, Judge Kelley has stated that the court cannot ignore its practical and financial repercussions.

Obviously, this opens up a whole new set of options for wealthy defendants. Imagine how much differently the Winklevoss lawsuit against Facebook, or the Apple (AAPL) suit against Microsoft (MSFT) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) would have gone with this defense. (Answer: probably not much.)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.