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Marriage Outside The Faith Leading To Disinheritance

Posted on in Estate Planning

A few years back the Huffington Post told a story of a different kind of will. Max Feinberg, a dentist in Chicago, wrote his will with an unusual catch to honor his faith: none of his grandchildren would inherit any money, unless they married someone who shares their Jewish faith.

Feinberg's will led to family feuds that ended up in court, until the Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Feinberg and his wife had the right to disinherit any of their grandchildren if they married outside the faith. Justice Rita Garman wrote in the ruling: "Equal protection does not require that all children be treated equally ... and the free exercise clause does not require a grandparent to treat grandchildren who reject his religious beliefs and customs in the same manner as he treats those who conform to his traditions." This Supreme Court ruling overturned two lower court rulings.

One of the disinherited grandchildren said she felt it was improper for a will to have conditions that promote religious intolerance in people's marriage decisions and possibly even encourage couples to get a divorce. She said it is at war with society's interest in eliminating bigotry and prejudice. The court's ruling in the way this estate was arranged was partly based on technicalities, and the court did not provide a broad ruling on whether similar restrictions are valid under different circumstances.

Although Feinberg's will might be unusual, inheritance cases get settled in court all the time. Estate planning includes numerous legal aspects, so when you are dealing with estate planning, make sure you have qualified legal help on your side. To get all the help you need, employ a top DuPage County estate planning lawyer to draft your will and other important estate planning documents.

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