Gee Thanks, Great-Great-Great-Grandpa Burt

Here lies Wellington R. Burt. Forest Lawn Cemetary, Saginaw, MI.

I just know my great-great-great-grandfather was very rich, despicable, vindictive, and there is a fortune that he is waiting to bestow on me.  I don’t know who my great-great-great grandfather is, but his name was probably Albert.  They named the first-born male, Albert, in my family almost religiously.  My father was Albert, my grandfather was Albert, and I know my great grandfather was Albert.  So why not the others?  I survived somehow.  I think it was my mother’s refusal to name me Albert, or maybe she pulled some funny business with the birth certificate without my father knowing.

I know I have no family in Saginaw, Michigan, so I have no claim to the $100-$110 million fortune that is being distributed 92 years after Wellington R. Burt’s death.  Talk about taking it with you, sort of.  His will stipulated that his fortune could not be distributed to the family until 21 years after the death of the last grandchild born in his lifetime.  Man, the murder plots that were probably considered during that person’s life.  Last granddaughter, Marian Landsill, died in November, 1989.

Wellington was pretty vindictive and he knew what he was doing.  He gave paltry sums of money to his children, the highest being $30,000 a year to a favorite son.  But most got $1,000 – $5,000 a year, except one daughter that got cut out because of her divorce.   Through a trust fund he left his secretary $4,000 a year.  His cook, housekeeper, coachman and chauffeur each got $1,000.  Just for comparison, the 1919 value of $5,000 is comparable to $63,641.62 today, so he didn’t exactly leave them destitute, well, with that one exception.  But he sure as hell didn’t want them to enjoy his millions.  Millions he got from lumber and iron mining.  He even cut the city of Saginaw out of his will over a tax dispute.

Why 21 years though?  Seems to be a legal issue.  According to Danielle Mayoras, attorney and co-author of the book, “Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights,” it involves the common law’s rule against perpetuities.  That rule forbids leaving money to anyone 21 years after the death of the last identifiable individual living at the time the will or trust was created, often referred to as preventing control by the “dead hand”.

Great-Great-Great-Grandaughter, Christina Cameron, moved up the inheritance chain after her grandfather died two years ago, and then her mother died at 50 last year.

But what absolutely frickin’ amazes me is what Ms. Cameron, 19, told the “Saginaw News”.  “I’d rather not rely on it,” she said. “I’ll probably just save it. I don’t know; it’s just not as big of a deal to me as it was to most of my family.”  I’m worried about her.  She and her sister Cory will each inherit a bit over $2.5 million.  Yeah, I’d put that in a savings account……..AND LIVE OFF THE FLIPPIN’ INTEREST!!  WTF.  Do you know if you put that money in a savings account at a paltry 4% compounded monthly, you will make over $80,000 a year.  Guess I could live with that.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Gee Thanks, Great-Great-Great-Grandpa Burt

  1. Stephanie Nafus

    Great Story!! Too bad you don’t have a son who could marry that silly 19 year old 🙂 Only daughters here….

  2. He probably would have been named Albert. Poor kid.

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