Download the Georgia Probate Handbook.

Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.


    Dead Hand, Estates, and Probate

    logos-image logos-image logos-image

    ‘Dead Hand‘ is not the title of one of next season’s Walking Dead episodes. It is a term used to describe certain clauses in some wills and trusts. From the Beastie Boys to the great playwrights Eugene O’Neill and Edward Albee, to Franz Kafka, to parents worried about the spending habits of their adult children, to homeowners wanting to preserve their home for, well, forever, exactly as it was during their lifetime, dead hand clauses have been a part of wills and trust since there have been wills and trusts.

    It’s pretty easy to define – a dead hand clause is just what it sounds like, it’s an attempt by the deceased to retain some measure of control over some kind of asset after death. As in, “I leave the house to my nephew as long as he never sells it to the neighbor who always wanted to build a parking lot on it.”

    Dead Hand clauses have been in the news lately because of two high-profile deaths. The first, Adam Yauch, one of the Beastie Boys, died in 2012. His will specifically instructed his executor to never allow any of his songs to be used for advertising. The second, Edward Albee, author of the iconic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, died last September. His will instructed his executors – two lifelong friends – to destroy “any incomplete manuscripts” he left behind.

    Simple, right? Just do what the deceased wanted and no problems.

    Not quite, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Executors, as we’ve seen over the last year of blog posts, have a duty to the deceased’s wishes, the estate, and the beneficiaries. And that’s a problem.

    Related Topic:  Ex's, Divorce, and Probate

    The Beastie Boys’ music, obviously, makes Adam Yarch’s estate a lot of money. Edward Albee’s papers are very valuable. In both cases, following the deceased’s ‘beyond the grave instructions’ will diminish the value of the available assets to the beneficiaries. Significantly.

    It’s a tough position for executors to be in. Albee’s executors have it even worse than Yarch’s, by the way. Nowhere in Albee’s will does he define what an ‘unfinished manuscript’ is.

    Being an executor is hard enough without dead hand instructions.




    After a loved one passes away, it is not uncommon to want to begin handling their affairs right away. Often, one of the first things the family will want to access the deceased’s bank accounts. Unfortunately, they quickly learn that the bank will not speak with them or give them any information, l...

    What happens if it is discovered that the deceased had dementia when the Will was created? Does that mean that the Will is automatically invalid or that the Probate Court will not accept it?  We will discuss these questions in this post. My name is Erik Broel & I am the founder & CEO of ...

    When can the Estate cover attorney's fees?  This is a common question with a somewhat complicated answer.  We’ll cover the basics in this post. My name is Erik Broel & I am the founder & CEO of Georgia Probate Law Group. At our firm we help families who have lost a loved one navigate ...

    © 2021 Georgia Probate Law Group by Broel Law, LLC. All rights reserved.