Should the law allow trusts and other dead hand control?

I’m not getting your point. I think a state could do what the OP is advocating for (although I haven’t really analyzed that question). No one has said it can’t be done. The debate is on the merits, not legality.

Not necessarily. Some people are scatter-brained where money is concerned and others compulsively spend whenever they have in hand. They know that’s true, but they can’t or won’t change it. Then they end up in trouble, know it’s their own fault, and hate themselves for it. I don’t see saving someone from that as being a bad thing.

Some people don’t bother to budget, but don’t care if someone else does it for them. Again, no problem.

Other people think they have a superior way of handling money, and then end up in a bind as they get older and, oops, maybe they should have saved more.

Basically, I don’t see a problem with doling out money slowly rather than handing someone a lump sum and saying, “Ha, ha, sucker. Sink or swim, I don’t care which.”

This is just a different way of saying that my budgeting and spending is superior to yours. Even if the second party agrees that he is a terrible budgeter and spender, that is not a good argument to treat him like a child or a ward of the state.

So, now, you have the freedom to go spend $1,000 at the strip club. You won’t do it because you are responsible. Great. That’s wonderful, and I mean that with no sarcasm. But why should your wishes control once you are in the ground?

Because it’s mine and not theirs. If they don’t like the rules, they don’t have to take the stuff.

Why give an interest in property to someone who doesn’t have one? Other than stuff like elective shares or mandatory support (kids and adult children with special needs), the property is mine to do with as I please. And if I please to leave it to my adult kids only if they root for the Packers, then so be it. Unless the restriction violates public policy or there are issues of fairness, it’s mine to do with as I want, even if I’m dead.

Sure. That is the current law. The debate is whether that is a good law. And I fail to see why, once you are dead, that your kids should have to continue to root for the Packers in order to keep the money. You got the money without conditions. You could root for the Packers or (if you went crazy) the Dallas Cowboys.

Why do your kids have to keep rooting for the Packers because Dad said so 20, 50 or even 70 years ago. What if 20 years from now the Packers organization comes out and says that they believe in White Supremacy and will dedicate their organization to prevent the mongrelization of the races? Your kids are appalled, but you are dead and cannot change the terms of the gift. Do we get a Ouija Board and try to contact you?

There exists property.

Someone will exercise control over it.

Is there any other person who should be granted the privilege over controlling the money? I don’t think so. Any other person will have a weaker claim to control in my opinion.

The descendants? Why should they get control?

The state? An irrelevance.

The spouse? I could see that I guess.

Perhaps because the decision is made while still alive. Maybe I have a good chunk of change and the end is near. My son unfortunately has a hummel-figurine fixation: probably whatever he inherits will soon be converted into artistically questionable porcelain monstrosities. So I only want him to have the money if he cant spend it like that, otherwise, I’d rater spend it myself, right now. On singing fish wall plaques maybe.

If we’re relying on “but why should your wishes control once you are in the ground?” then it seems to me we could take it to its logical conclusion and just do away with inheritance (or simulate that with a 100% inheritance tax). Maybe with some exceptions for actual dependents or college funds, etc.

I’m not advocating for that idea because I haven’t thought it through enough to understand all the unintended side effects, but I’m not entirely unsympathetic towards it. If the state has to raise some revenue (and I think most people agree with this, even if they think the state ought to be a lot smaller), then essentially everything (property tax, income tax, sales tax, tariffs, etc.) is a tax on the living and is potentially at least partially a tax on money earned through enterprise or hard work by the living. An inheritance tax only effects the dead or people who didn’t do any work to claim this money. If I wanted to shrink the state I’d reduce the “taxes on the living” only after there was no more “taxes on the dead / mooches” to suck dry first. While there still exists inheritance after tax and some sort of income related tax you’ve effectively made a choice to prioritize taxing the living over the dead.

In practice, there are probably quite a lot of institutions (hospitals, art museums, etc.) that would suffer greatly under such a scheme, so it’s probably not be a great idea. Still, I don’t really see much difference between getting to decide who gets to keep a bunch of money and getting to decide what people do with the bunch of money they get to keep. They’re both examples of the dead dictating how people get to (or don’t get to) spend money. Stranger McStrangerFace has dictated to me that I don’t get to spend his $1000 on stupid things by completely neglecting me from his will, no less than he did to Stranger McStrangerFace Jr. by adding stipulations on the inheritance. This just doesn’t seem like an important problem that needs solving.

Again, because it’s not theirs. It’s mine. And I get to decide what, if any, limitations I want to put on it.

They don’t. They can root for whomever they want. If they want to sell their soul and root for the Cowboys or screw their sister, lose their teeth and become irrationally stupid, they can root for the Steelers.

But if they want to have my money, they’ll have to do what I want. If I don’t get to control my money after death, then we shouldn’t allow any inheritance or bequests.

So what you’re saying is that I can help my husband and protect my kids while I’m alive, but I can’t arrange for anything to help them when I’m not. Apparently you’re saying screw them. If I can’t physically see them being better off once I’m dead, I should give up on them and let the vultures descend.

By the way, “ward of the state”? Sounds like you have control issues.

I think Driver8 and Hamlet have the right of it. Either the testator should be able to apply conditions to those who inherit testator’s estate, or there should be no inheritance at all. Nothing in between makes any sense.

If, for example, I wanted to leave my money to my alma mater on condition that they build and name after me a recreation center for the entire community (or something else) I guess I wouldn’t be able to do that under the OP’s plan.

I think the OP’s plan is not well thought out.

By that reasoning, as a couple previous posters have suggested, why should your designation of particular legatees control once you’re in the ground either?

You can choose to give money to Child A and none to Child B while you’re alive. But once you’re dead, what’s the justification for requiring compliance with your will that leaves an inheritance to Child A and none to Child B? Why should your wishes control once you’re in the ground?

If we don’t need to respect a testator’s stated wishes about how a legacy should be constrained, then I don’t see why we need to respect a testator’s stated wishes about who should get the legacy either. Once we start saying that the testator’s wishes for the use of their money are no longer binding after they’re dead, where do we draw the line?

Likewise, ISTM that this reasoning basically invalidates objections to the estate tax. Oh, you don’t want your multimillion-dollar estate subjected to additional taxes after you die? Too bad, you’re dead, your wishes are irrelevant.

(Personally, while I support the estate tax, I don’t support justifying it on the grounds that intentions expressed during the testator’s lifetime about the disposal of their property should automatically become entirely irrelevant and unenforceable once they’re dead.)

Do your objections extend to inter vivos trusts or just testamentary?

I see what you did there.

Maybe they should require contingencies to be built in. Jr wants to shoot dope and drink all day then try for the money against my wishes anyways? Bam, assets automatically donated to a short list of charities.

Now no-one is stuck with the unreasonable requirements of a dead man for the next forty years.

Ouch. I’m still feeling the pain of that burn. Well played. :slight_smile:

That could be a logical extension of my original thought. Like I’ve said before, I’m not writing a legal brief on here to a court.

But there is no reason that we have to take my OP that far. We as a society can say that a person, while they are alive, can determine the disposition of their property to whomever they wish after they are gone. However, that disposition must be absolute, or a possible modification would be that the condition must be immediate and clear.

As another poster suggested, the local college takes the money and names a building after you. Such a thing is direct and the consequences immediate such that the wishes are fulfilled by a single act and not through an ongoing promise that extends for tens of years. But even that can be frustrated by subsequent events.

What if the school discovers that the testator advocated for beating of women to “make them listen.” Do they have to give the money back after 100 years, let’s say? What if the school comes out in support of national socialism and decrees that Adolf Hitler was a great man? Do the grandkids get to remove their grandfather’s name from the building or can the school stand by the dead hand wishes which by their very nature cannot be changed?

That’s why I say that you have the right, while alive, to control the disposition of your property, but must do so absolutely. The next generation has every right to use it for good or evil, just as you did. Keep in mind that although generally these trusts have positive purposes, they could just as easily say that you must spend it in strip clubs, or you must drink alcohol, or you must marry a person of the same or opposite race.

Why should someone who is not part of the world anymore be telling a living person how to use an item of property that he or she had absolute control over? Life is for the living and things change. These things are often giant fuck yous from the grave as well. Why should society allow it?

I have no objections at all to inter vivos trusts because that is a decision made by a living person to control his assets during the term of his life. That is no different than handing my daughter a $100 bill with the stipulation that she only spend it on school supplies, and not a gift for her asshole boyfriend that I don’t like.

It is my money and I can give it, not give it, or give it with conditions. After I am in the ground, my conditions should no longer apply. I am unaware and unable to respond to changing circumstances, and my time on Earth is done. My daughter now has her time. Just as I had the freedom to give my money to charity, to save it, or to waste it on liquor and whores, she now should have that same freedom, and not be lorded over by dad ruling her from his casket.

Control issues? I am the one saying that a person should be free to spend his money how he sees fit. You are the one advocating that you should control your husband’s spending from your grave. If there are control issues, it is not from my proposal.

If you husband is unable to conduct his affairs within the reasonable bounds of society, he should be appointed a guardian. If he is otherwise competent, he does not need the financial supervision of a dead person.

Well, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s a question that lots of societies have grappled with and they haven’t all come to the same conclusion. In common law jurisdictions, you generally have a lot of freedom to decide who inherits (except for your spouse), but that’s not the case everywhere. There are plenty of places where you simply don’t get to disinherit your children, for example.

Great, so rather than establish a trust by my will, I am going to create an inter vivos trust now, take whatever revenue hit applies to the disposal, and still set rules that will apply after I have died.

No, in my kingdom, your rules will not apply after your death.

To be fair, some of your rules would not apply. Since, it appears, the rule of “I leave my property to my wife” unconditionally would apply, but not “I leave my property to my wife unless she remarries”.

Once you say “what you want to happen with your money after you die doesn’t matter because you are dead”, then it doesn’t matter that you wanted your money to go to your wife instead of to the government or the estate lawyers or whoever can get their hands on it.

I want my money to go to my children (for instance) because I want what is best for them. This is the same principle if I leave them my money unconditionally, or if I leave my money to them on condition that they don’t get arrested for DUI or go to prison. Certainly there are cases where this principle applies less, or not at all - the idea that “as long as they don’t marry a black person” is “wanting what’s best for them” is a stretch - but trying to pick out those kinds of cases rather than a blanket “you can do whatever you want - it’s your money to dispose of” is easier, and overall more acceptable.

My wife and I just did our wills, as a matter of fact. Part of that was a discussion about trusts and pre-nuptials in the event that one of us dies and the other wants to remarry. We agreed that, if one of us remarries, she (or I) will get a pre-nup so our children get their share rather than the new spouse.

It will probably be her, not me. She will be a rich widow, and is still quite attractive, and I would have no clue in the world how even to start dating again. Plus I smoke cigars.