Disinheriting Heirs Because Of Who They Marry

A Jewish couple, acting as trustors/settlors of their living trust, were “free to distribute their bounty as they saw fit and to favor those grandchildren whose life choices they approved of”. So held the Illinois Supreme Court.

A Jewish couple’s decision to disinherit any of their grandchildren that married outside their faith was decided by the court to be lawful. The couple’s will provided that upon the death of the surviving trustor, if any grandchild had married outside the Jewish faith, their non-Jewish spouse had a year to convert to Judaism. If they did not, the gift would lapse.

The state Supreme Court decided that the clause was valid as long as divorce was not encouraged by the method of disinheritance.

Restraints on marriage are generally held by the Courts to be void as against public policy when such provisions are contained in wills or trusts. California Civil Code section 710 provides that conditions imposing restraints upon marriage, except upon the marriage of a minor, are void; but this does not affect limitations where the intent was not to forbid marriage.

Consult an experienced estate planning lawyer if you want to create provisions to disinherit a particular beneficiary on grounds of substance abuse or because of religion. Call Mitchell A. Port at (310) 559-5259 to discuss your will, living trust and other estate planning options.