Can A Will Be Too Specific?
Those of us who live in California are no stranger to the behavior of the rich and famous. In some cases, eccentric behavior reaches out past the grave. Leona Helmsley left millions to her dog. The Executive Editor of Captain America and Iron Man willed that his ashes would be mixed with the ink used to print the comic books and they were. And Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, asked that his ashes would be scattered in space via an orbiting satellite and they were.
Add to the list a businessman who dictated that his gay son should marry the mother of his surrogate child, if the child and grandchild would be eligible for any inheritance. Can a will be that specific to make someone get married? That is still being debated in court.
According to news sources, the deceased knew that his son was gay and had a lifelong committed partner. The specific wording in the father’s will was that none of his money would go to a grandchild via his son, unless the son is “married to the child’s mother within six months of the child’s birth.” The son is married, although to a man who is the only so-called mother the child has ever known.
The son is contesting the will’s very specific provision. The Manhattan Surrogate’s Court has heard, but not yet approved a settlement to ignore the father’s demand as discriminatory and against New York law. The law that would be violated is the state law which supports marriage equality, according to the son.
The father’s wife is fighting to keep the grandchild from any inheritance. The father died in 2007 and there is still no decision in this case. Perhaps this provides a lesson on the limit to the demands one can make from beyond the grave.
Source: New York Post, “Manhattan businessman’s will ordered gay son to marry woman who gave birth to his child,” Kathianne Boniello, August 19, 2012.