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Hershey's Educational Trust: A Box Of Chocolates?

By November 15, 2011Celebrity Estates

There seems to be some controversy in the Hershey Chocolate World. The Derry Township School District has filed a lawsuit in Orphans Court of Dauphin County. They are arguing that Milton Hershey, founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company, intended to benefit the school district in his will.

Milton Hershey had an old-fashioned sense of doing good; a sign on his office wall read "Business is a matter of human service."

At his death in 1945, his will created multiple trusts; one to operate and fund the Milton Hershey School for orphans and disadvantaged children, and another to benefit educational institutions in the township.

Educational Purpose?

His M.S. Hershey Foundation was created for the establishment or maintenance of educational institutions, the public schools and the "vocational, cultural or professional education of any resident" of the township.

The Foundation has used over $9 million from 2003 and 2008 to pay for entertainment venues such as the Hershey Museum, Hershey Gardens and Hershey Archives, the school district claimed.

The district claims it has only received $25,000 since the 1960s, when the state changed how it allocated money to school districts. The Foundation's board determined the district was receiving adequate funds at that time.

Clear Instructions To The Trustee

When a trust is created, the grantor can be as specific or as general as they wish. Hershey's instructions apparently allowed the foundation a great deal of discretion in how they distributed the trust's income.

While most people do not have the billions that Milton Hershey had, this case illustrates the importance of providing clear instructions in a will or trust.

You do not want the trustee reviewing your trust to wonder what they are supposed to do, like guessing the type of chocolate in a box. When speaking with an MH estate planning attorney, be clear in your aims and the specifics of the trust.

Source: Reuters, Hershey schools in court over chocolate king's dream, Dave Warner

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