Are There Limits to Conditions on Bequests?

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Placing conditions on an inheritance can cause problems.

In some instances, it is appropriate to require certain standards to be met before receiving a benefit.

Students must earn a minimum grade to pass a course.

Athletes must pass a drug test to compete at the Olympics.

Even attorneys must pass the bar exam to practice law.

Nevertheless, there are limits when placing conditions on receiving benefits are problematic or illegal.

According to a recent Forbes article titled “What Can You Force Your Heirs to Do To Get Your Wealth,” limits exist regarding some conditions placed on heirs before receiving an inheritance.

Conditions can be useful in estate planning.
There are limits to the conditions you can place on an inheritance.

What are these limits?

Conditions cannot be against public policy or illegal.

What are examples of these?

In regard to public policy, you cannot leave land to a town and then demand an offensive statue be erected in the center of the gifted land.

It is illegal to require a crime to be committed to receive an inheritance or to provide funds to a known terrorist organization.

These are straightforward scenarios.

You may be surprised to find it is also illegal to place conditions on marriage, remarriage, or divorce on an inheritance through a last will and testament.

However, there have been instances where a conditions requiring someone not marry outside of the faith have been upheld.

While requirements of a spouse not remarrying have been deemed invalid, certain limitations have been upheld.

One such limitation was the ending of trust distributions to a spouse after remarriage.

Courts have upheld the standard of only providing for a widow while single.

In short, judicial precedent can greatly influence what is considered valid or invalid.

When it comes to voiding conditions of a last will and testament bequest, a beneficiary or interested party must file a complaint with the probate court.

The court will not void a condition placed on a bequest without a party bringing a legal complaint.

What happens if you do not file a complaint?

You could lose your right to challenge a condition when the last will and testament is allowed in the probate court.

Although there are legal limitations to what conditions can be upheld, instances exist where placing requirements on an heir is helpful.

Work with a experienced estate planning attorney to provide guidance on how to legally control how your assets are distributed to heirs.

Reference: Forbes July 21, 2021 “What Can You Force Your Heirs to Do To Get Your Wealth”

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