By Dean Zaderaka, VP Senior Trust Officer
Most people recognize the Golden Rule as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. However, in the world of estate planning the Golden Rule can have a different meaning – “those with the gold, make the rules”.
Typically trust and Will provisions provide that the heirs receive their share upon an individual’s death. However, the descendant can make provisions in their will or trust that are creative or to incentivize their heirs. Below are some examples of creative and unique trust and will provisions:
Distributions for Academic Performance – distributions based on grade point averages
Distributions to match earned income – provides an incentive for heirs to be productive citizens
Distributions to children when youngest grandchild is 55 years old – apparently the descendant’s children made him upset and he wanted to punish his children by not letting them have access to their inheritance for a long period of time
Limit Distributions to Substance abusers – prevent heirs from using inheritance in a destructive manner.
Below are some real-life examples of unique provisions:
Sandra West – she was an oil heiress that asked to be buried in the front seat of her 1964 Ferrari “with the seat slanted comfortably”. Her family followed her wishes, but had the car placed in a box and covered in cement to discourage looters.
Charles Millar – Canadian millionaire that was known as a prankster. Left is entire fortune to whichever woman produced the most babies in the 10 years following his death. Estate was eventually split between four women who each had nine children during the so called “Baby Derby”.
Heinrich Heine – German author left his entire estate to his wife – provided she remarried. Why? He wanted to be sure “there will be at least one man to regret my death”.
Leona Helmsley – left $12 million to her pet dog and nothing for her grandchildren. Grandchildren contested the will and court Judge awarded $2 million for pet dog and balance to grandchildren.
Bottom line – individuals can be creative with how they want their assets distributed and how/when their heirs receive the assets. However, care should be taken in that the provisions are not too vindictive or unreasonable as a court may over rule the provisions.