Jerry, a wealthy man, was lying in his death bed at a Grand Rapids hospital. He had no children, but his nieces and nephews who had been absent from his life for the past 25 years suddenly appeared over the past couple weeks and were disingenuously doting over him, assuming the end was near with the hopes of securing their inheritances.
Jerry was very frustrated by his years of loneliness and decided that he was going to “take it with him.” At least some of it, anyway. He called his estate planning attorney and updated his will, disinheriting his entire family, and instead would be giving half of his over $12 Million estate to charity and taking as much as he could “with him.” So, he called his financial advisor and had him fill three suitcases with $2 Million each and had checks cut for the balance of about $2 Million each.
Then, he called his minister, his doctor and his lawyer to his bedside. “My financial advisor has three checks for about $2 Million each and three suitcases each filled with $2 Million in cash. I want each of you to give one $2 Million check to a charity of your choice, keep $500,000 for yourself, and take the remaining $1.5 Million in cash and hold it until I die. I then trust you will all make sure the whole $4.5 Million is put safely in my coffin when I die so I can take all that money with me and prove the people wrong who say you can’t take it with you.”
The doctor and minister made the charitable donations right away to their respective employers but were not sure what to do with the cash, so they asked the lawyer for advice. The lawyer said he would take the remaining cash from them and would arrange with the funeral director to have a separate compartment built in the coffin to secure certain “personal effects” that Jerry wanted buried with him when that time came.
Jerry held on for another two weeks, but then died peacefully surrounded by a roomful of nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. When the lawyer told the funeral director about the plan, he said it seemed like an odd request, but the funeral director worked with a safe company and the casket manufacturer to get the custom job done in the 48 hours before the visitation and funeral were scheduled.
After the funeral, the lawyer, minister, and doctor were riding away in a limousine, when the priest suddenly broke into tears and confessed to the lawyer, “I only gave you $1 Million to put into the compartment because I needed $500,000 to complete the new family life center our church is building in Jerry’s honor.”
“Well, since we’re seeking legal advice from our lawyer,” the doctor said, “I only gave you $750,000 to put in the compartment because we needed a new machine for the wing we named in Jerry’s honor at the hospital which cost $750,000.”
The lawyer was visibly horrified by these revelations. “I’m ashamed of both of you,” he said shaking his head. “I already knew that some of the money was missing when you gave me your suitcases, so I took it upon myself to make sure the rest of money was safe in that coffin so Jerry could take it with him. I even replaced what you both took from my own accounts. So you both can rest easy knowing that I put the full $4.5 Million in there just as Jerry requested, and I even took further steps to make sure no one else can do what the two of you did. I took the cash from the suitcases and put it into my personal account and wrote a check for the full $4.5 Million that can only be cashed by Jerry himself so that no one else could tarnish his wishes like the two of you did.” Then he continued, “I also used the $2 Million check Jerry gave me to set up a charitable foundation in Jerry’s name, if either of you want to donate what you took back to it. After legal fees, pre-paid rent for the Foundation’s space in my building, and buying this limousine, the Foundation is running a bit short on cash, so it would be much appreciated.”