36 - November 2009
Enter the 2009 Law & Disorder Cartoon Caption Competition below.
Last orders-Alcoholic Sons
Your son's drinking, gambling and womanising have far exceeded your own. He seems happy to do it on your tab.
You have waited for him to settle down, get married and have kids but at 35 he shows no sign of slowing down. He says he is having too much fun.
You have told him that we are not here to have fun. You have explained to him the many benefits of marriage and children, without success.
Your lawyer says that this is very common. Many sons have formed the view that marriage is a mugs game and kids make your life a misery. You do not know where they got that impression. Left to his own devices your son would quickly spend his inheritance. Then where would you be?
Your lawyer advises you that an “Alcotestamentary” trust clause be inserted in your Will. On your death, your son’s part of the inheritance would be managed by a trustee until he sobers up, if ever. The right trustee will look after your son and give him his inheritance in very sensible small installments. The real problem is choosing the right trustee.
His siblings may be too soft. An accountant is an excellent choice and will often add little lectures in money management which I understand are quite tortuous. However, that does cost money.
The best choice by far, is an ex girlfriend especially one who fears that she has been left on the shelf as a result of your son’s dithering. Combine the ex girlfriend with a narrow minded religious friend of the family and your money should be quite safe especially if you provide that the trustees’ decisions are to be unanimous.
The right choice of trustee has been the first step on the path of sobriety for many wayward sons.
(c)Paul Brennan 2009.
Family Dramatics-extreme wealth distribution and the law
As E.W. Howe said “There are very few grave legal questions in a poor man’s estate”.
But add even a little money and any family can become the stage for some stellar and demanding performances from family members.
Often the indolent, gin swilling, shopperholic daughter-in-law who must be kept away from the wonderful son’s inheritance can become in time the saintly mother who sacrifices all for her own children and deserves every penny. The death of her husband may launch her into a new marriage and the role of hated money grabbing step mother, only for her new husband to die and for her to inherit everything leaving his children without an inheritance. But, her loneliness throws her into the arms of a chancer and she becomes the fear driven widow who is about to be taken for a ride by a man who through some quirk of law could leave her money to his own children.
Meanwhile, the men of the family not only have to play opposite a multiplicity of female roles they can equally progress from wayward alcoholic son who unless stopped will spend his inheritance at breakneck speed to responsible, long suffering patriarch trying to do the right thing. However, the death of the patriarch’s wife of many years may launch him into the role of money grabbing chancer who marries again to a rich widow who promptly dies, only to finish as an old man living off her money, being taken advantage of by one or more younger women which to some of you may sound worth waiting for.
Your lawyer may not be able to make you feel in the right but he should be able to explain why everybody else is in the wrong, hopefully to the satisfaction of a court.
Can a standard will really cover all this? Well, probably not, but ask for it anyway.
(c)Paul Brennan 2009 author of eBook and CD the 10 Greatest Legal Mistakes in Business…and how to avoid them”.
Oppression, oppression…of minority shareholders
Is management getting down on you? Just a minute you are management.
Once you were a band of four equals growing a company to sell it for a killing.
Initially, your conservative, systematic approach was a good mix with their knockabout, cavalier manner but as the company became more successful, the other three shareholders increasingly play the three musketeers as if you were one of the Cardinal’s men. Voting in the board meetings becomes three to one.
They decide to make your life a misery so that you leave without insisting on a full 25% share. They deliberately criticize or ignore everything you say, treating you like an employee and starving you of information to upset you despite you, being a director.
You tell your lawyer that it is like having a nagging spouse, who does not listen to what you say and spends money like water without consulting you. Many lawyers will know exactly what you mean.
However, in shareholder “splits” there is no “no fault” divorce. If it is just a matter of lack of confidence and trust between shareholders the court will leave you all to stew rather than pulling the plug.
But, here you are being bullied and courts hate bullies as much as anybody, unless of course the bully is a judge and then that seems to be alright.
Your lawyer will tell you that you are an oppressed minority shareholder subject to unfairly prejudicial conduct. You must do what the majority say but you are entitled to participate as you were supposed to be an equal, basically it is a breach of contract.
The most common order is for the remaining shareholders to buy your shares at a market price. An alternative is for the company to be wound up and everyone loses.
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The content of this site and the Law & Disorder eZine is to give you legal basics and in some instances included unashamedly to try and make you laugh. In law it is sometimes difficult to work out what is serious and what is just for fun. Therefore, if you plan to do anything legal, rely on your own lawyer’s advice or instruct me to look at the particular facts of your case. Not only will I deny responsibility for the legal content but also for some of the jokes.
© Paul Brennan 2009.
Author of the The Law is an Ass...Make Sure it Doesn't Bite Yours!