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Aug 26, 2008

When there's a will there's a fight..

Can't a guy do with his money as he pleases?

The Chicago Tribune reports on a fight among family over the will of the deceased grandfather. The guy must have been extremely rich, because the fight over his money has torn the family apart.

Briefly, Max Feinberg wrote in his will that any descendants that would marry non-Jews would be disinherited. A couple of his grandchildren intermarried, and are suing their parents who are trying to keep their fathers wishes.

It is such a shame when a family gets torn apart by fighting over money. And once they are fighting over money, I would point out the "money quote" of the article. The mother, Marcy, being sued by her daughter, said, "I have to think she misses the gefilte fish" [because she has been exiled from the family dinner table].

If she wins the court case, she can buy herself an awful lot of gefilte fish, so that argument is not going to cut it...

But can't a guy do with his money as he pleases? Why does he not have the right to distribute his money among whichever children and grandchildren he wants to, and not give to the ones he does not want to? I never really understood the concept of contesting a will - unless it is on the basis of the deceased not being of sound mind. Why can a person not decide what to do with his own money?


  1. http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/feinberg.pdf

    here is a link to the court decision to hold the clause void as against public policy.

  2. Thanks to anon. for the link. The concurring opinion acknowledges that the majority of previous opinions on the issue have reached the opposite decision, but notes that the majority of them were from over 50 years ago, and did not take into account the Restatement (Third) of Trusts, which states that "a trust provision is ordinarily invalid if it tends seriously to interfere with or inhibit... the exercise of freedom to marry by limiting the beneficiary's selection of a spouse.

    He notes further that "while many jurists, notably the Justices of the United States Supreme Court who adhere to the principle of following the 'original intent' of the framers of the constitution, believe in a static jurisprudence, the authors of the Restatements do not".


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