A lot of movies in the marketplace are titled Inheritance (or some variation of that). These films tend to take a dramatic, morose look at inheritances and can be relatable or therapeutic if you’ve recently lost a loved one. But they also focus more on character relationships than with the inheritance itself.
On the other end of the spectrum, high concept comedies tend to flip the script by focusing on the specific aspects of a person’s will to drive the narrative.
There are plenty of standard templates when drafting a will, but one aspect that many films use to drive the comedy is what’s known as a “conditional bequest,” wherein the heir must first accomplish a specific goal prior to receiving their inheritance.
Obvious conditional bequests include making sure someone has reached a certain age, is in college or married, but anyone can essentially get as creative as they want, so long as the conditions are free of ambiguity. The following are three films that exhibit the best examples of a conditional bequest.
In an attempt to force someone into a healthy lifestyle (and make sure the money isn’t wasted on addictions), Rodney Dangerfield must stop gambling and go vice free for a year prior to receiving his $10 million inheritance. The conditions are extremely broad in this context, so to make sure this type of general idea is valid and enforceable, the conditions regarding what constitutes gambling and vices must be specifically detailed.
The will in this film, which forces Chris O’Donnell to marry prior to his 30th birthday in order to inherit $100 million, is similar to Easy Money in that specifics are very important. Does he have to fall in love? How long must the couple remain married? Can he get an annulment right after receiving the inheritance? All of this (and more) must be stipulated to make sure the conditional bequest is enforceable.
The best overall film of the bunch, Brewster’s Millions follows Richard Pryor as he spends $30 million dollars in 30 days to inherit $300 million. The conceit behind it being that he will be so sick of money by the end of this term that he won’t want to spend another dime. Unlike the previous examples, the rules here are stipulated in great detail, from how much he can use to gamble and how much can go to charity to making sure that he has receipts for everything and is left with nothing tangible to show for it. The only issue is the use of video to deliver these stipulations, which by itself, isn’t enforceable. But as long as all of what’s stated in the video is also included in writing, this is a creative way to make sure the heir of a massive fortune knows the true value of a dollar.