Not satisfied enough with robbing their companies during life, some CEOs are even robbing their companies post-mortem:
After reviewing the WSJ article, a few possibilities come to mind:
The death benefits are actually paid via life insurance policies, the cash value of which is owned by the CEO - it’s a way to get around tax penalties on CEO compensation over a certain amount, and it has been around for years - ever since the adoption of tax penalties on cash compensation over $ 1 million (which, BTW, also gave rise to the massive option packages about which people now complain);
It’s the CEOs negotiating to get shareholder to cover their death tax; or
A combination of one and two.
In any event, remove the market limitations and change the ridiculous tax structure, and the problem is solved…
There’s a different, and separate, agency problem at work w/r/t CEO pay, but that’s just the issue you have by giving management power over stockholder-owned assets, for which I’ve yet to see a complete solution.