In July, former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno transferred full ownership of his house in State College, PA. to his wife for $1 “plus love and affection," according to The New York Times. The two have lived in the house together since 1969 when they purchased it for $58,000.
The transfer of the property, which is now listed at a value of over $500,000, was part of a long-term estate planning program, Paterno’s lawyer told The Times in an e-mail, and reportedly had nothing to do with the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State which ultimately cost the college football legend his job. However, in light of the recent Penn State child abuse scandal which could leave Paterno personally vulnerable to a civil lawsuit, some speculate the move may have been made to protect the estate in advance.
“I can’t see any tax advantages,” Lawrence A. Frolik, an elder law professor at the University of Pittsburgh told The Times. “If someone told me that, my reaction would be, ‘Are they hoping to shield assets in case if there’s personal liability?’ ”
“It sounds like an attempt to avoid personal liability in having assets in his wife’s name,” Frolik continued.
Analysts, however, told The Times that it would be hard to determine the motivation of the Paterno family from just the legal documents made available to the public. They also pointed to the fact that the Paterno’s have a long history of “complex and confusing transactions.”
Paterno was fired from Penn State last week after it was revealed that despite reporting his knowledge of the sexual abuse of young boys by former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky to school authorities; he never went to the police about the issues. Wide receivers coach Mike McQueary testified before a grand jury in December of 2010 that he had witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the shower at the locker room at the Lasch Football Building on campus. McQueary told the grand jury that he reported the incident to Paterno as well as other Penn State administrators.
Sandusky has been charged by a state grand jury with counts of deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of a child, and indecent assault. In a recent interview on NBC, Sandusky claimed that he is “innocent of these charges.”