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Searcher Trust? A Legal Question

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  • Searcher Trust? A Legal Question

    I have heard it said that winners of a lottery who pooled their money (played in a lottery pool) often form a legal trust to collect large sums so that taxes are paid by the Trust or something before the after-tax proceeds are divided.

    I don't know much about Trusts other than people wealthier than me have them for various financial and liability reasons.

    But it got me to thinking and wondering if my questions have been asked before...

    What if search partners form some kind of legal trust that is established for the purpose of finding the chest and dealing with taxes and other legalese issues as a means to insulate those working for the trust from some degree of personal liability? That a Trust rather than individuals actually have and make a claim to the "Title to the Gold"?

    If this applicable and doable, then couldn't the terms of such a Trust be declared in its charter or whatever the documents used to establish a Trust are called?

    Could a Trust also work as or in lieu of a legal contract agreement between search partners as to what happens if the chest is found?

  • #2
    Originally posted by LurkerMike View Post
    I have heard it said that winners of a lottery who pooled their money (played in a lottery pool) often form a legal trust to collect large sums so that taxes are paid by the Trust or something before the after-tax proceeds are divided.

    I don't know much about Trusts other than people wealthier than me have them for various financial and liability reasons.

    But it got me to thinking and wondering if my questions have been asked before...

    What if search partners form some kind of legal trust that is established for the purpose of finding the chest and dealing with taxes and other legalese issues as a means to insulate those working for the trust from some degree of personal liability? That a Trust rather than individuals actually have and make a claim to the "Title to the Gold"?

    If this applicable and doable, then couldn't the terms of such a Trust be declared in its charter or whatever the documents used to establish a Trust are called?

    Could a Trust also work as or in lieu of a legal contract agreement between search partners as to what happens if the chest is found?
    Trusts are typically used to distribute assets by placing them out of the donors hands. That way taxes are paid by the trust or its beneficiaries at time of distribution. Problem is the searchers don't have the chest to donate to the proposed trust.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Quest View Post

      Trusts are typically used to distribute assets by placing them out of the donors hands. That way taxes are paid by the trust or its beneficiaries at time of distribution. Problem is the searchers don't have the chest to donate to the proposed trust.
      I was thinking along the lines of setting up a Trust Company as a legal entity to own the chest by assignment or donation with its main purpose to protect the chest for in perpetuity.

      One of my many questions about such a Trust would be whether a searcher or searches could act as agents of such a Trust where they seek to find the chest and immediately assign it to this Trust Company so that they never take legal personal ownership of the chest? Basically they are acting as employees of the trust rather than individual searchers so that their legal liabilities are limited. In other words if there were legal disputes with the ownership of the chest after it is found, those disputes would be with the Trust Corporation and not with any individuals.

      I hope that makes sense.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by LurkerMike View Post

        I was thinking along the lines of setting up a Trust Company as a legal entity to own the chest by assignment or donation with its main purpose to protect the chest for in perpetuity.

        One of my many questions about such a Trust would be whether a searcher or searches could act as agents of such a Trust where they seek to find the chest and immediately assign it to this Trust Company so that they never take legal personal ownership of the chest? Basically they are acting as employees of the trust rather than individual searchers so that their legal liabilities are limited. In other words if there were legal disputes with the ownership of the chest after it is found, those disputes would be with the Trust Corporation and not with any individuals.

        I hope that makes sense.
        Sounds more like an LLC than a trust. What would Mel Fisher do ?
        https://www.melfisher.com/default.html
        https://www.melfisher.com/Home/company.asp

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        • #5
          I'm more worried about avoiding becoming like Tommy Thompson:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Gregory_Thompson

          Comment


          • #6
            You’ve been thinking Mike. Let’s go back to how large the chest is and its contents. I think it is worth about 250,000 at the most unless it is sold as a whole (“Fenn’s treasure”). Tommy Thompson seems ruined by money. Whoever finds Fenn’s chest will probably have paid at least as much as it is worth and so will not be ruined by money.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Seabiscuit View Post
              You’ve been thinking Mike. Let’s go back to how large the chest is and its contents. I think it is worth about 250,000 at the most unless it is sold as a whole (“Fenn’s treasure”). Tommy Thompson seems ruined by money. Whoever finds Fenn’s chest will probably have paid at least as much as it is worth and so will not be ruined by money.
              I think we are on the same wavelength about keeping the chest whole.

              I want to see it go to a museum whole. Fenn has said the Smithsonian but I would argue Cody should be its forever home.

              I think the Finder could find ways many of making money without breaking up the treasure or selling it into private hands. For me, I would rather have some kind of moderate income stream than a lump sum any day. It's the difference in getting a smaller raise than getting a somewhat larger bonus if you are an hourly worker like I am. Say $1 an hour raise which is around $2000 per year versus say a $5 bonus. I won't be ahead with the raise for 2.5 years, but after those 2.5 years, I'm still getting that raise long after that one-time bonus is gone. The main exception would be if you did not have longterm plans to keep that particular job.

              In other words, I could live without a million bucks and I know this because I have lived without a million bucks for over 40 years and I have been just fine without it. That's not to say I don't want a million bucks or would not accept a million bucks, just that I don't covet a million bucks. But I'm not afraid of gambling a million bucks in the hand against the potential of brokering notoriety into a much smaller income stream.

              The problem for me is I don't own or otherwise have access to enough assets to even pay the taxes on the value of the chest, which the Finder may not owe, but expect the IRS or State to demand taxes be paid on it nonetheless. I don't think I could even afford the legal costs in fighting such legal battles with Uncle Sam.

              Forrest advised the Finder to wait 30 days before doing anything.

              That tells me there is a legal minefield that must be negotiated correctly. Having as many options available as possible beforehand might make the difference in profiting from finding the chest and being bankrupted by it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Understand that if I believed I was certain to find the chest, or the Lead Searcher-Dog, 200-footer, 2-footer, or whatever, I would have no reason to share any of this kind of discussion on the forums.

                I'm like every other searcher with at least one pretty good solve that has the potential of being the hiding spot, but no one can know where the treasure is before searching those places for it.

                Since the odds are long against any particular searcher finding the chest, I think there should be more discussion about what the options are for whoever finds it after it is found.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by LurkerMike View Post
                  I'm more worried about avoiding becoming like Tommy Thompson:

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Gregory_Thompson
                  I don't see a comparison unless you were taking investment money with no intention of paying investors.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Quest View Post

                    I don't see a comparison unless you were taking investment money with no intention of paying investors.
                    It was more than just cheating people, his motivation became greed that consumed him, took his sanity, and destroyed his humanity.

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                    Last edited by LurkerMike; 12-02-2019, 09:00 PM.

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