The United Jewish Appeal claims it was supposed to get the remainder of a trust set up by building mogul Bill Gottlieb, who died in 1999, according to a filing in Manhattan Surrogate's Court. Gottlieb's late sister's husband, Irving Bender, eventually became the beneficiary of the trust, and allegedly blew $3.5 million meant for the charity.
In a lawsuit, United Jewish Appeal alleges that Irving Bender wasted $3.5 million of trust assets on fancy hotels and other luxuries that were well beyond his normal standard of living. It is also alleges that these expenditures were allowed by the third-party trustee so that it could get business in the future from one of Bender's relatives.
Under the terms of the trust, Bender was supposed to use trust assets during his lifetime but retain his normal and usual standard of living. The remainder of the trust was to go to United Jewish Appeal.
The New York Post has more on this story in an article titled "Real-estate heir blows $3.5M meant for charity on cars, hotels: suit."
Of course, Bender disputes the allegations and it is too early to tell which of the parties is correct.
These types of suits are not unusual, however.
Trusts often have conflicts between present and future beneficiaries. The keys to creating a trust that does not have those types of conflicts is to set specific limits in the trust and to choose a trustee that does not have a business interest in taking one side of the conflict over the other.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help parties steer clear of these conflicts.