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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

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

  • gski

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

  • 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.

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

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

  • 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?

  • 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

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

  • Isilzha

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

  • 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.

  • Isilzha

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

  • Isilzha

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

  • Miss_Beara

    Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum

  • 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://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.

  • 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.


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