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Dawn of the Dead? A Discussion of "Immortality and the Law: The Rising Power of the American Dead"

A donor may set up a charitable foundation in perpetuity, and the foundation’s trustees are obligated to carry out the donor’s intent. These two defining features of the American legal system afford donors a form of immortality, writes Ray Madoff in her new book, Immortality and the Law: The Rising Power of the American Dead (Yale University Press). But when current needs are effectively surrendered to the “dead hand” of the past, and when that trend is driven not by the wishes of the dead so much as by the living who stand to benefit the most – trustees, bankers, and financial services companies, society and the donor himself or herself ultimately lose, Madoff argues.

On May 18, Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center gathered a panel of experts to discuss the issues raised in Madoff’s book: Is it impossible to prevent donor intent from being corrupted? To what extent should it be honored after a donor’s death? Who should decide?

William Schambra, Moderator

Hudson Senior Fellow and Director, Bradley Center for Philanthropy & Civic Renewal

Ray Madoff, Panelist

Law Professor, Boston College and author

Jeffrey Cooper, Panelist

Quinnipiac University School of Law

Arthur "Buzz" Schmidt, Panelist

GuideStar International

Suzanne Garment, Panelist

Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University

Hudson Experts

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