Are Conditional Bequests Legal?
If you have recently lost a loved one, you may have learned about the contents of their will. You may have been surprised to learn that there were certain conditions or requirements on your ability to receive your inheritance. This is not very uncommon. In fact, many people place conditions on bequests in their will. This allows them to uphold certain traditions or to continue to have power and influence even after they are gone. However, conditional bequests are not always legal, and there are a number of instances in which they will not be enforced by the court. In this article, we’ll cover when a conditional bequest made in a will be unenforceable and how to make a valid conditional bequest.
What is a Conditional Bequest?
We’ve talked a bit about conditional bequests at this point, but it’s important to make sure that you understand what one is so that you recognize one when you see it and know when you are including them in your will. A conditional request is a condition placed on a gift made in a will. For instance, bequeathing $100,000 to your son on the condition that he does not marry until the age of 25, or bequeathing your land and/or property to your children on the condition that it is never used for business or commercial purposes.
When Are Conditional Bequests Illegal?
Conditional requests are not always legal. The court doesn’t like people to be able to control the lives of their descendants from beyond the grave, so there is a relatively limited scope within which conditions are legal. If conditions on a bequest are unreasonable, such as requiring someone to cover their body in tattoos, the court may place the conditions aside. Conditions may also be considered unreasonable if they are impossible to perform or would be illegal, immoral, unethical, or against public policy. Making a bequest to someone on the condition that they divorce their spouse is often treated by judges as being void against public policy. Likewise, making a request to someone on the condition that they convert to a different religion or marry within their faith are also generally considered void against public policy and unenforceable. The conditions made on a bequest may either precede or occur subsequent to the bequeathment of assets made through a will. However, in order to be valid the conditions must not force the recipient to do anything against their will, and they must have a choice in the matter. If you have questions about whether a conditional bequest is legally enforceable or whether it can be successfully challenged, it is a good idea to contact a Boston, Massachusetts estate attorney.
Contact Fisher Law, LLC, in Norwood, Massachusetts to Schedule a Consultation Today
If you want to draft a will that is sure to be enforceable or you are ready to fight to get the inheritance that you are legally entitled to, the experienced Norwood estate planning attorneys at Fisher Law, LLC are ready to help. Contact Fisher Law, LLC today to schedule a consultation.