According to a real estate attorney interviewed by Newsweek, Donald Trump may employ various tactics to impede the auctioning of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, following a significant New York fraud case.
The possibility of Trump utilizing Florida’s stringent home-protection laws to prevent an auction hinges on whether Mar-a-Lago, which encompasses a private members’ club, can be established as Donald Trump’s official residence, a matter that currently lacks certainty.
Paul Golden, an author of Litigating Constructive Trusts and a partner at the New York law firm Coffey Modica, shared insights in the wake of a New York judge’s decision to revoke several business licenses of Trump-affiliated companies. This action was taken in response to the companies’ fraudulent overvaluation of their properties, including the former president’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, located in Palm Beach.
Tristan Snell, the former assistant attorney general of New York, recently expressed the view that Trump’s properties are likely to be liquidated and auctioned off following a summary ruling in the ongoing fraud case led by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
In response to this situation, Paul Golden explained that Trump might invoke the property protection provisions outlined in the Florida constitution to prevent the auction of Mar-a-Lago.
Golden elaborated, stating, “If the New York case affected one of the entities that own the Florida property, and in response Mr. Trump claims that this constitutional provision assists him, Mr. Trump would have at least a few roadblocks.”
Florida’s home-protection laws could potentially shield Trump from any court-ordered actions, but he would first need to establish that Mar-a-Lago is owned by what the Florida constitution refers to as “a natural person.”
“There is seemingly restrictive language in the [Florida] constitution, but some courts have not interpreted it in that manner,” noted Golden.
He went on to highlight another potential challenge, stating, “Another issue is whether Mr. Trump would be considered a Florida resident who considered that property his residence. One would expect that Letitia James would claim that it cannot truly be considered a residence because it is a members-only club with guest rooms.”
Golden also pointed out, “If only a portion of the property would be considered his ‘residence’, then there are further complications.”
Furthermore, Golden raised the issue of whether the decision of a New York court could be overridden by Florida law, describing it as a “seriously complicated issue.”
Florida’s constitution provides some of the most robust protections in the United States against repossession and court-ordered actions.
To meet the criteria, the property must be “owned by a natural person” and serve as “the residence of the owner or the owner’s family,” as explained by Golden.
Tristan Snell, in a recent MSNBC interview, expressed the belief that Trump’s properties implicated in the case are likely to be auctioned off, especially now that the corporate licenses of their associated corporations are being revoked.
Snell remarked, “The worst outcome that could have come from this case has already been handed down, and that is for the corporate licenses to be cancelled. The properties are likely going to be liquidated. The properties are probably going to be sold at auction. That’s probably what is going to happen. We don’t know that for sure, but that is probably where this is headed. So [Trump] is already really, really in trouble.”
Snell emphasized the importance of acknowledging that Trump has already lost the summary judgment, despite his repeated claims of innocence.
Judge Arthur Engoron has granted Trump’s legal team until October 26 to provide a list of potential receivers who will oversee the dissolution of the business licenses of the implicated companies.
To prevent any legal maneuvers aimed at circumventing his ruling, Engoron has instructed Trump’s legal team to provide advance notice of any applications for new business licenses in any jurisdiction. Additionally, they must promptly disclose any attempts to establish new entities to hold or acquire assets from a company undergoing dissolution as a result of the ruling.