Dec 12, 2013
Poisoned lottery winner’s daughter reaches successful estate settlement
In this week’s settlement of the estate of Urooj Khan, the $1 million lottery winner who died from cyanide poisoning, principal David Feinberg of Chuhak & Tecson, P.C., is pleased with the outcome for his client, the decedent’s 18-year-old daughter.
Jasmeen Khan receives $140,000—one third of the roughly $425,000 lump sum payout her father had claimed from the Illinois State Lottery—plus five condominiums he owned in Chicago. The other heir, Shabana Ansari, widow of the decedent and stepmother to Jasmeen, settled for approximately $35,000 and her husband’s half-share in the dry cleaning business he owned with a partner. She also gets the family home, which is hers through joint tenancy and is not part of the probate estate.
“This is a very good settlement for Jasmeen,” Feinberg said. “She’ll be a college student next year, and this not only gives her some financial security but also leaves open the possibility for her to pursue other legal action, if warranted and under certain circumstances, relating to her father’s passing.”
The case has drawn international attention since Khan died July 20, 2012, weeks after his lottery scratch-off ticket produced a million-dollar win and days before he would have received the check. At first, the death was attributed to natural causes and an autopsy was not required because the Cook County Medical Examiner found nothing suspicious. But further testing at the request of Khan's brother uncovered cyanide poisoning as the cause of death, and the case became a murder investigation. Khan’s death has been ruled a homicide by police and remains under investigation.
Khan had no will and in Illinois, when a person dies intestate, 50 percent of the estate goes to the surviving spouse, and the remainder is divided equally between the children. Without the negotiated settlement, Jasmeen would have received a weaker package since some properties were outside the estate and, as a 50 percent heir, she would have also been responsible for certain administrative costs.
As it now stands, those costs will be borne by Khan’s widow, and Jasmeen gets a fifth condominium that was outside the estate.
“My client is walking away with 80 to 90 percent of the remaining liquid assets, plus all of the real estate properties within the estate,” Feinberg said.
Jasmeen had no interest in operating the commercial dry cleaning business, he said. Besides the amounts going to the heirs, another $250,000 from the jackpot prize has already been distributed somewhat evenly between the parties and was used for other expenses, fees and taxes.
Under the circumstances, it was an emotionally challenging case for all involved, but Feinberg focused on protecting his client’s interests both legally and financially.
“Here you have a child who lost a parent under mysterious circumstances, killed by cyanide poisoning, and as her attorney I am responsible for looking after her well-being,” he said. “My client is very happy with the settlement, and the only thing she still hopes for is a just resolution to the criminal investigation that will allow her to get some closure.
“She’s a smart girl with a bright, successful future ahead of her.”
If the parties had not settled, the case had the potential to become quite drawn out, Feinberg said, and he was concerned there would be no assets left for Jasmeen to inherit.
“This definitely was a win,” he said. “We were able to secure a financial benefit and also left open the opportunity to pursue other legal action if the facts support it. That was something that was important to my client. I feel like we got the best of both worlds here.”