Today’s Verdict: Controlling Your Assets From Beyond The Grave


by David Lesch, Esq.

Last week, it was reported that a wealthy landlord in Manhattan left twenty million dollars to his two daughters with one caveat, they can only collect if they abide by his strict terms.  Maurice Laboz who made his fortune in real estate clearly stated in his will that his daughters would be entitled to most of his fortune if they marry the right man, got the right job, and lived the type of life their father would have approved.

Of course, controlling your assets from the grave is nothing new. Many people create a trust for the benefit of their loved ones before they pass away.  I usually tell my clients that trusts, when used properly, can protect a beneficiary from being taken advantage of after death of a provider.  But asking the beneficiary to follow your guidelines years after you are gone seems a bit too much.   Many a grandchild has been forced to take a drug test in order to receive an inheritance.  Children have been required to visit their father’s grave once a year in order to receive payouts.  What is allowed varies according to state law.  In Missouri, a court once struck down as too vague, a provision requiring brothers to be capable of “prudent exercise, control and ownership” of a parcel of land so that “no further danger shall exist”.  Even religious restrictions mandating tuition payouts only be used for certain type of schools have been upheld.  But is this what we want as a society.

Controlling your assets after death runs afoul of the independence we cherish as individuals.  Someone might say “then don’t take the money” but is this really the answer?  The monies given by those who passed away can very much help the younger generation to succeed.  And so many of this generation need a head start.

Unemployment may be down, but wages have not risen to make up for periodic inflation. Restricting a loved ones path is not the answer.  Maybe Maurice Laboz thought he was protecting his daughters but in reality he is restricting their ability to be their own persons and to use inheritance as a way to start their own financial future.  The laws governing the controlling of a trust from the afterlife should be changed.  Controlling your heirs from the grave just doesn’t make sense.

David P. Lesch, Esq. is an attorney with Lesch & Lesch P.C. and host of ‘Today’s Verdict with David Lesch’ on Bronxnet. Today”s Verdict airs Tuesday nights at 6:30pm, Cablevision channel 67, Fios channel 33. 


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