“Cause I’m a specializer, rhyme reviser
Ain’t selling out to advertisers
What you get is what you see
And you won’t see me out there advertising”
-“Triple Trouble” by Beastie Boys
Earlier this year, Adam “MCA” Yauch, one-third of the groundbreaking rap group the Beastie Boys, passed away from salivary gland cancer. Throughout his career, Yauch had publicly expressed very clear opinions on a range of issues from Tibet to the objectification of women. It was not surprising to find out that his Last Will and Testament reflected these convictions.
Yauch’s will included several conditions that will prevent his music from being used for purposes that he would have objected to. His wife Dechen was named the sole owner of his artistic property, allowing her the right to utilize it in a manner that she believes her husband would have approved of. In addition, his will contained provisions that expressly prevented his personal image and created works from being used for advertising purposes.
Provisions that express your values and beliefs are not just the providence of artists or the super affluent. For individuals who wish to reflect their beliefs in their wills, there are several methods of doing so:
1) Conditional bequests-Wills may include bequests that are conditioned on the gift being used for specific purposes or may become available to the recipient only if they abide by certain conditions. Utilizing these types of bequests can provide an individual with the knowledge that the money they are leaving behind will be used for only specific purposes.
2) Fiduciary Instructions-In the same way that a conditional gift can limit the ways a beneficiary can receive the testator’s property, instructions to a fiduciary can also allow a testator control over how their property is used. In some ways, instructions to a fiduciary can be more difficult to enforce. Furthermore, depending on the type of instructions, the restrictions put on the fiduciaries may not be upheld by the Surrogate’s Court.
3) Charitable Gifts-Putting conditions on bequests and limiting a fiduciary’s actions may not always provide a testator with clarity that their values and beliefs will ultimately be upheld. A more concrete way to utilize an estate plan in this manner is by making charitable gifts to causes that you support. Gifts can be made at death, during an individual’s lifetime or a combination of both. A secondary benefit to charitable planning is the possible estate, gift and income tax deductions created by any gift made to an eligible charity.
By protecting his image, Adam Yauch was able to ensure that his values would continue to be expressed even after his death. This benefit of estate planning is not always considered, but it is a powerful way to continue your legacy long after your passing.
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