When New York landlord Maurice Laboz died at the beginning of the year, he wasn’t quite ready to give up deciding what was best for his family. The 77-year-old had a $37 million (£23.7 million) fortune to play with, so he devised a bizarre will that allows his daughters to inherit $10 million (£6.4 million) each – as long as they follow his exacting rules.
The New York Post reported that the girls will both get the money when they hit the age of 35, but they can get their hands on some of the cash earlier if they do what he wants.
His daughter Marlena, aged 21, will get $500,000 (£320,000) of the money when she gets married. However, before she gets a penny, her husband must sign a contract saying he will never touch the money. She will also get $750,000 (£480,000) after graduating from a good university – as long as she writes a statement outlining what she intends to do with the money.
When the girls finally start work, according to The Metro, both Marlena and her sister Victoria (17), will get an annual payout of three times their salaries. If they choose to have children and stay at home they’ll get 3% of the money every year instead. However, if they have that child out of marriage they won’t get the payment.
They’ll also get the annual 3% if they stay at home and look after their mother Ewa (58). Ewa was in the middle of divorcing her husband, and received nothing in the will.
It’s a very strange way to try to control the actions of your children beyond the grave, but while it’s highly unusual, it has been done before.
Control from beyond the grave
The college requirement is more common in the US, with some parents writing into their wills that children have to attain a particular grade at College before receiving a payout. The idea of matching income is also increasingly popular among the mega-wealthy, who don’t like the idea of their children sitting around doing nothing.
However, there are also a variety of truly bizarre requirements that have been written into wills. Henry Budd was an early pioneer of the strange controlling bequest. When he died in 1862 he left his £200,000 estate in trust to his two sons – on the condition that neither grow a moustache.
Frank Smith, from Romsey in Hampshire, died in November 1942. His will stated that his daughter should receive everything – as long as she left her ‘immoral husband’. If she continued living with him, or allowed him to benefit from the inheritance, the whole lot would be given to the Treasury.
Leona Helmsley, the American business woman called the ‘Queen of Mean’, caused enormous controversy with her will, by leaving millions to her dog and cutting some family members out of her will. However, she also left $5 million to each of her two grandchildren, with a further $5 million in trust. To get the money left in trust they would have to visit their father’s grave every calendar year. If they failed to do so, the rest of the trust would be forfeited.
Chicago dentist Max Feinberg, meanwhile, died in 1986, leaving a trust that would pay out each year to his grandchildren. However, he stipulated that any child who married outside the Jewish faith – or whose spouse didn’t convert within a year – would be disinherited. The grandchildren sued, but the will was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court.