An individual who is a beneficiary of his uncle’s estate asked the Ethicist at the NYT if he should follow his uncle’s instructions to donate several thousand dollars to various charities. The instructions were made in a letter accompanying the will. The beneficiary perceived the groups to be “extremely right wing” and was offended by some of them. The Ethicist instructed the beneficiary to make the donations or not take any money.
1. Leaving money to someone with the expectation that he will share it with someone else or a charity is not legally binding nor a good idea (see the comment about not legally binding).
2. Charitable bequests should be made in the will so they are carried out (and so charitable deductions are effective).
3. Expecting anyone from California to donate money to a conservative cause is tilting at windmills.