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Some say Florida man protecting his assets with odd move

There is a fine line between smart estate planning and attempting to abuse the system. Many people think that one Florida man has crossed that line.

As the multimillionaire awaits his trial for a drunk driving accident he caused -- claiming the life of another man in the process -- he made an unconventional maneuver that many believe was a form of asset protection. The man adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend to be his daughter. The story has captivated the nation for its bizarre nature and almost blatant attempt at protecting some of his fortune.

By taking on the woman as a daughter, he could secure some of his fortune for her, shielding it from the victim's family, which has also filed a lawsuit for punitive damages. However, the family did not specify how much money they will be fighting for. With the woman now legally listed at the man's daughter, a few transactions could successfully hide the 48-year-old's "true wealth."

In 2004, the man sold a family business for $1.43 billion and then built a successful polo club. The man also has two biological children, which he established a trust for in 1991. That fund is worth an estimated $300 million and that money is shielded from any prospective lawsuit filed by the victim's family.

He could do the same thing for his new "daughter", but there has been no word on whether he has put money into the trust following the fatal accident. The man's attorney said that there is no foul play involved in the recent arrangement and that the man has an existing agreement with his ex-wife that his biological children will receive 95 percent of the trust.

The man is facing up to 30 years in prison after being charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. He struck another car in Feb. 12, 2010 while drunk. A 23-year-old man and his car rolled down into a canal after being struck and the defendant left him behind without assistance. The man eventually called police 50 minutes later.

Source: CBS News, "Fla. mogul facing trial, adopt his girlfriend," Feb. 11, 2012

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