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What Can We Learn from the Boar’s Head Beef?

There’s a new beef among the Boar’s Head heirs LOL. The death of Barbara Brunckhorst, the daughter of one of the Boar’s Head co-founders, triggered a legal dispute between the descendants of the two families that control the meat company. Frank Brunckhorst and Bruno Bischoff started the Brooklyn-born, $1-billion-in-annual-revenue company by selling their meats from horse-drawn wagons in 1905.
Barbara, while alive, established the Barbara Brunckhorst Foundation, with $350 million in assets. She gave away millions during her lifetime to environmental organizations and advocacy groups. As it turns out, Barbara’s dying wish was that a “substantial portion” of her stake in the privately held company go to environmental charities and neuroscience research.
Unfortunately, it appears that Barbara’s dying wishes never made it into a formal written document. No last will or trust was put in place to allow her business interests to pass to her beloved charities and after her passing, the family finds themselves in a legal dispute as to her shares of the company.
Now, readers of this newsletter already know that a wish is just wish without a legal will. But why does the law insist on the written, notarized, witnessed last will or trust? I’m often asked why a video, which provides so much more detail and context can’t suffice as to determining one’s final wishes.
The idea is, if someone truly feels adamant about their wishes, such as supporting charitable causes, then taking precise legal action, such as amending drafting a will or creating a trust, removes any ambiguity upon their death. The act of going to the attorney, stating your wishes, reviewing and signing the documents is the best way to legitimize the intentions.
Despite Barbara’s established foundation and lifetime of charitableness (it’s a word!), there’s no way to donate her Boar’s Head shares without an estate plan; the company stays out of the charity. And we learn that (still in the year 2022) despite all of our technologies, the written and executed estate plan is the only way to avoid the complicated and drawn-out legal battles as to someone’s last wishes.

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