Aquilini Family Trust at the Heart of Bitter Divorce

Aquilini Family Trust at the Heart of Bitter Divorce (opens in new window)Francesco and Tali’ah Aquilini’s Family Trust dispute involves over $5 billion and more in assets, including the Vancouver Canucks and the largest blueberry and cranberry farming operations in the world. It affects tens of thousands of employees of the companies and their strategic partners, other family members, and young children caught in the limelight. Assets the children might not know about for years will be fodder for their friends, acquaintances and competitors to discuss. Mother is hurt by alleged philandering and who knows what the real truth is. When good divorce attorneys are hired to get all that they can and inflict some pain, some wounds will be inflicted that may never heal.

Francesco’s dad Luigi used a complex web of trusts and investment entities such that his children may, in fact, own nothing that can be reached beyond what a normal upper class husband might own from distributions. This would be good for him, and perhaps good for his children in the long run, if he is a loving father. Luigi’s plan might marry his concern for his grandchildren and allow him flexibility to benefit his grandchildren with discretion, even if Francesco has no concern.

Some interesting insights one usually will not appreciate as the Francesco and Tali’ah Aquilini Family Trust battle unfolds:

  1. Spouses of wealthy heirs carry a lot of water for the families they become part of. They do not understand how vulnerable they can be to the might of the family’s money and the judgments about them that come from its association. The responsibilities that come with this association and money are also often misunderstood.
     
  2. Most wealthy families do not understand the need to build “highly-centered” heirs who understand their responsibility to spouse, children, and community. Big money often masks human vulnerabilities to the family’s long-term success.
     
  3. The costs that this family will suffer, even if the asset protection planning is successful, will likely be greater than anyone now anticipates. The law and dispute takes on a life of its own, and the deeper they go together into battle, the harder to get back to a healthy balance in all relationships, including those of some key lieutenants and strategic relationships in the enterprises who may be called as witnesses.
     
  4. There is nothing that informs someone like Luigi of the strengths and weaknesses of his plan than battle. Hopefully, someone will advise about the human costs and opportunities as fully as the financial. May new insights help the family, ultimately, to strengthen itself in its core values and be just with those who may be harmed without substantial fault.

VANCOUVER — The bitter fight between Francesco and Tali’ah Aquilini is about to spill into B.C. Supreme Court, and over the next six weeks the public will get a rare look at what happens when high net worth couples can’t settle their personal differences privately.

Aquilini Family Trust at the Heart of Bitter Divorce (opens in new window)