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Sorry Gore-Tex Heiress, You Can't Adopt Your Husband

By Edward Tan, JD | Last updated on

Some people will go to great lengths for money. Gore-Tex heiress Susan Gore adopted her ex-husband in order to claim a bigger stake in her family's billion dollar inheritance.

But her decision didn't change the Delaware Supreme Court's opinion, Reuters reports. The court ruled Susan's adoption wasn't enough to increase the number of company shares her family would receive. The waterproof fabric company earns $3 billion in annual revenue.

Gore secretly adopted Jan Otto, her former spouse, in 2003. He was 65 years old at the time. But why did she think this would net her more of the family inheritance?

Because Wilbert Gore, founder of W.L. Gore & Associates Inc., and his late wife, Vieve, intended to divide their fortune among their five offspring and grandchildren. There were 26,500 company shares up for grabs.

However, since Susan only had three kids and each of her siblings had four, her family stood to inherit fewer shares under the trust. In essence, by adopting Jan as her son, she sought to even out her stake in the fortune, according to the court.

When one creates a trust, they must designate a specific intent for it. Whether it's to give money to a charity or family, the creator has to lay out the trust's purpose. And courts have a lot of discretion in determining whether the creator's intentions have been met.

In Susan's case, the court held that because she kept her adoption secret until after Vieve died, the action was meant to "thwart Vieve's intentions." In short, the Gore-Tex heiress won't be getting more shares based on her ex-husband/son.

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