Dear Kids

Don’t piss me off

The descendants of Wellington R. Burt, who became fabulously wealthy in the age of the robber barons, will finally inherit his fortune — 92 years after his death.

Burt, who died in 1919 at age 87 in Saginaw, Mich., made his wealth in the lumber and iron industries. For reasons not described in his will, he stipulated that the majority of his fortune would be distributed 21 years after his last surviving grandchild’s death.



7 Responses to “Dear Kids”

  1. Rob says:

    I read this a few weeks ago and I still wonder what the 21 years is about.

  2. Mr. Bingley says:

    From this I gather it’s an english common law rule to put a limit on how far into the future a dead hand can exert control and taunt.

  3. Larry says:

    Wow, and I thought MY grand-dad was an a$$hole.

  4. Rob says:

    I also wonder what kind of graffiti is on his headstone.

  5. Skyler says:

    I wonder how that works with the Rule against Perpetuities.

    ” . . . that no interest in property is valid unless it vests not later than twenty-one years, plus the period of gestation, after some life or lives in being which exist at the time of the creation of the interest.”

    It’s kind of like he wanted to delay as long as possible to give out his money. The rule against perpetuities is designed to keep a “cold dead hand” from controlling fortunes. It allows inheritance but only so far. That is, you can leave your money to your son for his life, but after he dies the money goes to your best friend’s daughter. You can make as many rules about your inheritance as you want, up to the limit of RAP.

    It’s the bane of law school students because it can be very very tricky to figure out.

    Burt’s fortune could only be left to someone after grandchildren alive at the time of his death were alive, plus 21 years. If grandchildren were conceived after his death, then they don’t count.

  6. Skyler says:

    Ah, Bingley beat me to it. But it’s a common law, not exclusively British. It is good law still in the US.

  7. nightfly says:

    Unfathomable. When he was born, Andrew Jackson was president and there were only 24 states. The Battle of the Alamo hadn’t happened. There was no such thing as photography or even daguerrotype, and the US had exactly one steam railway, covering all of 13 miles…

    …and his will is finally being executed.

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