Man Orders Gay Son To Marry Woman to Collect His Inheritance

When I was younger, I really liked the T.V. show The Monkees.  Yes, it was 1995, so I was a bit behind the times, but that show is awesome and transcends time and space.

Anyway there was one silly episode called “Monkees Mind Their Manor.”  Davy Jones gets called back to England to inherit some mansion but here’s the twist: He has to stay in the manor for 5 years!  Hilarity ensues! That old “you get the inheritance if you do this really silly thing” plot has been used a million times.  And even when I was in middle school, I got that those plot lines were sort of silly and overdone.

They have to win a Medieval Fair to save villagers or something!

So we’re all familiar with this tried-and-true formula, right?

And now for something a bit worse:

When Frank Mandelbaum died in 2007, all of his grandkids were entitled to a $180,000 trust.  There is, however, one big, fat asterisk:

The will specified that any offspring of Frank’s son Robert Mandelbaum would get none of it unless Robert was married to the child’s mother within 6 months of the child’s birth.  

Oh yeah, and Robert is gay.  

His and his partner’s son Cooper was conceived using a surrogate.  Robert maintains that his now-husband Jonathan O’Donnell is the “only ‘mother’ the 16 month-old has ever known.”

The Manhattan Surrogate’s Court has yet to approve a settlement to ignore Frank Mandelbaum’s demand as discriminatory and against New York law.

The settlement is the only way to solve the dispute over Cooper, Robert Mandelbaum claims in court papers, because the will “imposes a general restraint on marriage by compelling Robert Mandelbaum . . . to enter into a sham marriage” — which he says violates state law supporting marriage equality.

Take a moment to let that sink in.  This isn’t “stay in a haunted mansion with some kooky ghosts to get the money” kind of stuff.  This is “tear your son’s family apart because you are too much of a bigot to just let him live the life that makes him happy, even though you are dead and don’t have to worry about what is going on with the living” sort of thing.

And let’s not forget that marrying a woman will not make your son straight:

Requiring a gay man to marry a woman . . . to ensure his child’s bequest is tantamount to expecting him either to live in celibacy, or to engage in extramarital activity with another man, and is therefore contrary to public policy,” Anne Bederka wrote in court papers. “There is no doubt that what [Frank Mandelbaum] has sought to do is induce Robert to marry a woman.”

I don’t even know what else to say.  This guy was an asshole, and that’s the legacy he’s left behind.

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

    I’m sorry Robert’s dad was a butthurt homophobe who obviously hated his son’s lifestyle.  And note that I am 100% for marriage equality.

    However, as I see it, if he doesn’t want to marry a woman, as his idiot father stipulated, then his kid doesn’t get the money.  If my parents did that to me, I wouldn’t want their money.  His options are lie and marry a woman, which of course he does not want to do, or forfeit the money and stay happy.

    Yes, it’s horrible.  Yes, it’s mean.  Yes, it’s not at all fair. 

    • Marco

      Let’s also be realistic: $180K is a nice chunk of money, but it’s far from being a “live happily ever after” kind of money.  A moderately successful professional can make that much in 2 years at the most. And spend it much faster than that. 

      If it was several millions, then I think it would have been much more worth fighting for and maybe even compromise one’s integrity, but this kind of sum can be depleted by the legal fees alone rather quickly I am afraid.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I don’t think I have any kind of right to inherit any money from my ancestors. 

      • jdm8

        I don’t know if there is such a right to an inheritance, but probate laws might limit the stipulations a will can place on the benefactors. The bizarre thing about this case is that it places demands on one person in order for another person to benefit, so it’s much like a hostage situation.

        • Isilzha

           Actually it places demands on TWO people for a 3rd person to benefit.

          • jdm8

            You’re right, that makes it all the more reprehensible.

          • Baby_Raptor

            He was probably banking on the surrogate saying no, and thus Mr. Mandelbaum not getting the money. 

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Yeah, what can you say?

    I guess I think people should be able to do pretty much whatever they want with their assets when they die. That includes something that show them to be total assholes. Letting courts change people’s wills after they die seems like something that should be avoided.

    Perhaps the son in this case should just write off his father for the jerk he obviously was, and let it go.

    On the other hand, since the son and his partner were legally married within the 6-month requirement stated in the will, there is an opportunity for some interesting and possibly beneficial legal precedent to be set.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000100463793 Scott Gifford

    This looks a lot more like a sloppy lawyer trying to keep illegitimate children or others from claiming a share than it does something anti-gay. 

    Though the hetronormativity in many forms is certainly a problem, especially when you have lawyers who do not review them to make sure they work in every case.

    • Isilzha

       No, it doesn’t sound like it has a thing to do with “illegitimacy”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000100463793 Scott Gifford

        Sure it does. That’s the whole idea behind the six months of birth thing. By saying that a kid he fathered to a woman he was not married to, or someone claiming that he was the father, would not have a right to the trust even if he really was the dad. 
        You don’t see these much anymore, as fewer and fewer people are concerned with rather arcane and offensive concepts like legitimacy, but they still crop up from time to time. 

        If he was upset that his son was gay why would he not just disinherit him instead of taking out on his grandson? 

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson


          why would he not just disinherit ”

          Probably thinks if he tries a different ‘lifestyle choice’ he’ll change.

        • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

          Gee, maybe because he was just a hateful bigot that wanted to screw with his gay son one last time for the ultimate “Eff you!”?

          It must be nice to live in LaLa Land where blindness to society’s nastiness is a badge of honour.

        • Isilzha

          It’s not at all about illegitimacy if the marriage stipulation is ONLY for the gay son!  Also, there’s something called PATERNITY testing that could make sure any child is a “legitimate” heir. 

        • The Other Weirdo

           Unless he also asked for a DNA test to be performed to verify lineage, that throws that idea out of the window.

  • Sven

    Can he marry, claim the inheritance, then divorce?  You don’t even need a ceremony, just some paperwork.

    Not saying it’s right, just brainstorming ways to screw the intent of the bigot’s will.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

      Irrelevant… it’s past the 6-month mark as the child is 16 months old.

      • http://twitter.com/PirateFroglet Cathy McGrath

        Actually, that would only count for THAT child, he can still have another and marry the surrogate, get the trust for the second kid, and raise them to share and share alike.
        That’s how I read it anyway.

  • 0xabad1dea

    I wouldn’t even want the money at that point… but I wouldn’t be surprised if in some states there are laws that wills cannot demand this, that, or the other. Of course only lawyers can answer that question… 

    In this case it would require the woman to also consent to marrying him, which may have slipped Grampa Moneybags’ mind. Maybe it can be thrown out on that argument, that her rejection is entirely beyond his control? Heck maybe she’s already married!

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    It looks like he doesn’t just have to marry any women…he has to marry “the child’s mother within 6 months of the child’s birth”.  Would that be the egg donor?  The Surrogate?

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      Both, I imagine. But wait, that would be polygamy. Can’t have that!

  • HannibalBarca

    I wonder how strictly the will defines “mother.” There are all kinds of circumstances where a child might consider someone who is not their biological mother to be “Mom.” If they can convince the court that the male partner can be considered a “mother” then maybe this will all just go away.

  • gski

    He is using his grandson against his son. What will the grandson think when he is old enough to understand that?

    • Isilzha

       He’ll probably get glad he didn’t have to get to know his grandfather!

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        I imagine so! What an awful legacy to leave behind. What’s sad is that it probably happens more often than people realize. There are a lot of anti-gay people who don’t accept their LGBT children’s families, especially if the babies don’t share their DNA. Thank goodness my grandmother and grandfather weren’t like that. They died when I was young, so I didn’t get to know them well, but my non-biological, non-legal grandparents always treated my brother and me exactly the same as our cousins, and left us the same amount of money when they died.

  • http://garicgymro.wordpress.com/ garicgymro

    I suspect he’ll get his money, although I’m speaking more from experience (not first-hand) of English and Welsh law, where conditions on gifts that are contrary to public policy, or are otherwise unreasonable, are straightforwardly declared void. This has been typically interpreted to include conditions involving an unreasonable constraint of marriage, or which are motivated by prejudice (typically racial) or which would cause unnecessary discomfort or suffering. 

    I’m aware that there are similar laws in New York (I note that the phrase “contrary to public policy” appears in your post), although I don’t know how broad the interpretations are. Either way, the beneficiary is typically regarded in law, as I understand it, to have a right to inherit that trumps the deceased’s right to attach unreasonable burdens to gifts.

    • Jeff

      garicgymro, the big case taught here in the states is Shapira v. Union National Bank, 315 N.E.2d 825 (Ohio 1974) (http://www.4lawnotes.com/wills-trusts-estates/2572-shapira-v-union-national-bank.html). It was also an issue of partial restraint on marriage and the highest court of Ohio found it valid. However, a big part of the court’s reasoning was that if the gift failed, there was a giftover provision and Israel would become the new beneficiary. The linked article does not mention any similar provision.

      However, we’re talking about a low-NY court in 2012, not an OH court in 1974, so I think this provision is more likely to be blue-penciled for public policy reasons. It doesn’t hurt that being gay is very unlike being Jewish, where the latter is often a more cultural thing (I might be wrong here, since I wasn’t in Ohio in the 70s) and also is more of a personal choice (uh-oh, I’m going to get in trouble for saying that) in that the relative rate of “conversions” is much higher with respect to religion/Judaism and belief in deities is unsupported by evidence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    They have a surrogate child, and he has to marry the mother of the child, or he doesn’t get the money? So what if she says no?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

      While I don’t think he should be pursuing this in court, if he did, this should be a main point on which to focus.

  • Isilzha

    Obviously the woman should  have no say in this marriage either!

  • A3Kr0n

    Ya the guy’s an asshole and it’s his money. I also think David Cassidy (Partridge Family) is a much better singer than Davy Jones. OK, I really watched that show because I thought Lori was cute.

  • Miss_Beara

    Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

    It’s grandpa’s money, and he can do what he wants with it.  He could have refused to leave anything to dad or grandson simply because he didn’t like them, or without giving a reason at all.  I suspect the law will agree, but maybe not.

    In any case, the gesture is pointless.  No matter how much money you denied the kid, grandpa, you’re still dead and dad is alive and raising grandson.  He has the rest of his life to explain why he made a decision that cost grandson a lot of money (“Well, son, grandpa wasn’t thinking very clearly at the end of his life, and he wanted me to be different than I am.  He wanted it very much, and he was willing to use you to make it happen if it could.  He was desperate, you see . . . .”)  Nobody is going to bother explaining your side of this to grandson, and if they did, it probably wouldn’t help your case.

    Legal but crazy, I think.

    • TheExpatriate700

      I have to admit, if I was the son, I would contest it just for the sake of whittling the inheritance out of existence. If the other siblings and their grandchildren are decent people, they would refuse to accept out of principle. If not, then perhaps it is better they not get any money, as they would be unlikely to do anything good with it.

      • EivindKjorstad

         If they where *real* decent people, they’d just accept it — then *give* an equal portion to the gay sibling.

        No need for lawyering, and the old assholes testament is de-facto irrelevant.

        • TheExpatriate700

          What is wrong with using lawyers? I can think of far nastier ways to resolve an issue. Resolving a dispute in a civilized manner should not be stigmatized.

          • EivindKjorstad

             Nothing is wrong with using lawyers. But I think doing the obviously right thing without being forced to do so by a court, is preferably to doing the right thing, because a court ordered it.

    • EivindKjorstad

       That logic isn’t generally valid.

      We don’t give people a green light for discrimination just because “it’s their money”. A company that puts out ads for a job-opening, and specify “no negroes” or “no jews”, or “no women” will not get away with it just by saying they’re paying the salary “with their own money”.

      Here in Norway, discriminating based on sexual orientation, is as illegal as doing it based on race, religion or gender. (but laws obviously vary by jurisdiction)

  • Alan Christensen

    Ah, the things people will do for money. I don’t have much patience for people who imagine they’re entitled to an inheritance. I see inheritances as a bit of good luck, not something that’s necessarily due. Sure, fight if you’re named as a heir but someone tries to swindle you out of it. Otherwise, it’s not your money if the dead person didn’t want you to have it. C’est la vie, c’est la mort.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    I wonder if he was not only upset about his son being gay, but also worried that any of Robert’s children might not share the family DNA, and that’s why he put that stipulation in the will. It’s another version of “you’re not really my grandchild” if you’re adopted, conceived by sperm donor, etc.

  • Margaret Whitestone

    It’s pretty sad that someone is so hateful they’ll push it from beyond the grave.  

    • The Other Weirdo

       It doesn’t matter how hateful a person is, it is not possible for them to push anything from beyond the grave. This was all set up while the person was still alive, it didn’t magically come into being when the person died.

  • Guest

    Well, it’s hard to argue with a post that starts with a Monkees reference.

  • David McNerney

    If he loses, he should have the old git exhumed and posthumously married to a gay guy – cadavar synod style.

  • Leisha

    HELLO to my friends out there i am testifying about the good work of a man who help me it has been hell from the day my husband left me i am a woman with two kids my problem stated when the father of my kids travel i never help he was living but as at two weeks i did not set my eye on my husband i try calling but he was not taken my call some week he call me telling me that he has found love some where easy at first i never take to be serous but day after he came to the house to pick his things that was the time i notice that things is going bad i help he will come back but things was going bad day by day i needed to talk to someone about it so i went to his friend but there was no help so i give it up on him month later i met on the the internet a spell caster i never believe on this but i needed my men back so i gave the spell caster my problem at first i never trusted him so i was just doing it for doing sake but after three day my hasbond called me telling me that he his coming home i still do not believe but as at the six day the father to my kids came to the house asking me to for give him the spell work to said to my self from that day i was happy with my family thanks to the esango priest of (abamieghe)esango priest he his a great man you need to try him you can as well to tell him your problem so that he can be of help to you his content email is this  esangopriest@hotmail.com indeed you are a priest thank you for making my home a happy home again.  remember his email is esangopriest@hotmail.com

    • Drakk

       You managed to turn off caps lock after the first word! Next we’ll focus on using the enter key to make paragraphs.


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