LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Clark County judge has awarded Tony Hsieh's father and brother administrative duties to begin the process of sorting out the Las Vegas visionary's vast wealth and estate after he died last week and left no known will or estate documents.
On Thursday, Judge Gloria Sturman granted the ex parte motion filed by the attorney representing Tony's father Richard Hsieh, and brother Andrew Hsieh, to serve as co-special administrators and legal representatives for the estate.
Earlier this week, court filings revealed Tony's family was not aware of a last will and testament or other estate planning documents to instruct anyone on how to handle his financial assets in the event of his death.
Published reports indicate Tony Hsieh's wealth could be as much as $1 billion and include a variety of assets including real estate and other business dealings.
"In this case, we don't know if there is a will or estate planning documents so it allows the special administrator to do things like gather bank statements, get into a safe deposit box, call the financial institutions where we think he may have banked or had accounts and get access to that information," explained Brooke Borg, an estate attorney with experience in similar probate cases.
Borg Law Group is not involved with the Hsieh case but says the special co-administrators will begin investigating and protecting the estate and assets.
"Over and over again, wealthy people who we hear are famous and pass away oftentimes don't have estate plans in place," added Borg.
Borg says sorting out Hsieh's fiances will be a very long and complicated process adding a 'normal' probate proceeding can last up to 18 months.
A person with vast wealth, assets in different states and businesses will take much longer.
“I’m sure his family and everyone here in Southern Nevada knows his philanthropic heart, if there’s nothing in writing stated he wanted a portion of his assets to go to charities that were near and dear to his heart or his family, in the end, the court is going to determine, based on statute," said Borg.
"It might not have been what he intended," added Borg.
Also on Thursday, the Hsieh family released a statement:
"The Hsieh family is deeply grateful for the outpouring of love and respect shown in the wake of Tony’s passing. It is clear to the family that he had a profound impact on countless people all over the world. He was a forward thinker with a zeal for bringing joy to others, and bridged communities and people from all walks of life. He valued experiences and relationships over material wealth, and always chose kindness.
Tony was extremely accomplished in both his personal and professional lives, his parents are most proud of how he turned out as a human being. He had true compassion and an endless desire to elevate everyone around him. He would often refer to himself as the caboose, because everyone else came first.
The Hsieh family hopes to carry on Tony’s legacy by spreading the tenets he lived by – finding joy through meaningful life experience, inspiring and helping others, and most of all, delivering happiness."
Some are coming forward with concerns in the months leading up to Tony's death.
"As a person who is in long-term recovery when I saw alcohol at a workplace it raises my eyebrows," said Dave Marlon, CEO of Crossroads Nevada, an addiction resource program.
Marlon says he knew Tony over the years in the course of his work in downtown Las Vegas and at Zappos.
Marlon toured the headquarters a number of times.
"I toured Zappos many times and I was always surprised about the prominence of alcohol, culturally, and at workstations, it was very common for them to have alcohol there," said Marlon.
Hsieh was described by some as eccentric, unconventional and was not known for fitting into normal business customs.
Hsieh was profiled by ABC News in 2015 when he showed off his 250 square-foot travel trailer he called home in downtown Las Vegas.
He had a pet alpaca named Marley and pet chickens.
The billionaire internet mogul, at the time, said he owned only four pairs of shoes, despite running a company that sold millions of pairs.
In August, Hsieh abruptly left Zappos, the company he nurtured and led for more than two decades.
There was no celebration and no official public announcement ahead of time.
Published reports indicate Hsieh snatched up millions in real estate in Park City, Utah around the time he left Zappos.
The move was seen as peculiar, even for Hsieh, who said he believed more in 'experiences' than to own physical items or property.
Marlon says with his experience in substance abuse and warning sign behaviors he reached out to Hsieh in August to offer help but the offer was not acknowledged.
13 Investigates has not been able to independently confirm those details.
As for the fire that is blamed on his death, it remains under investigation.
New London, CT, fire authorities say they were called to a home at 500 Pequot Ave, around 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 18.
Initial reports indicated a person was barricaded inside a shed of the home.
Dispatch audio reveals Hsieh was locked inside and firefighters found him unconscious.
He was taken to a burn center and then flown to a medical center where he passed away on Nov. 27 around 5 a.m.
On Monday, the Connecticut chief medical examiner ruled Hsieh’s death was accidental from complications from smoke inhalation.