Humana co-founder David Jones Sr.’s estate valued at $21 million

Experts say he likely used trusts and other means of transferring wealth

People of Jones’ means often use legal vehicles such as trusts, family limited partnerships and charitable foundations to reduce and transfer their assets, for tax benefits and for privacy.

Through those mechanisms, “the estate can be whittled down to a significantly lower number,” said Jennifer Bird-Pollan, an expert on wealth transfer issues at the University of Kentucky College of Law.

The $21 million reflects only what Jones is passing to family and charities through the legal process — not the assets he may have already put into trusts or other vehicles.

Jones’ estate has yet to file a detailed inventory of his probated assets. In court records, they are described as $15 million in “miscellaneous real estate and investments” and $6.5 million in “miscellaneous tangible personal property, notes and cash accounts,” with no additional details.

Jones’ wife Betty, who died about a month earlier in August, left an estate worth only $400,000, according to court records.

BACKGROUND | Humana co-founder David Jones Sr. leaves business, civic legacy in Louisville

Mark Oppenheimer, the Louisville attorney handling both estates, did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did David Jones Jr., one of the Jones’ children and an executor of the estates.

For the wealthy, the benefits of trusts include possible tax savings and a faster, cheaper way to transfer assets to family than probate, said Richard Ausness, who teaches trusts and estates at the UK College of Law.

“The other reason,” he said, “is the secrecy.”

The existence of trusts – as well as whom they benefit and what assets they hold – is shielded from public record, he said.

That makes them a convenient tool to discretely transfer wealth, he said.

WDRB Article, Nov. 18, 2019