Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Jewish Clause...

..."In the first case of its kind ever heard in an Illinois court, judges decide whether someone can disinherit his grandchildren for marrying a non-jew" [Chicago Jewish News]

received via e-mail:
I thought you might be interested in a recent decision by the Illinois Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, in which the court, in a 2-1 decision, voided a will provision that barred a trust distribution to any grandchild who married a non-Jew (unless the non-Jew converted within a year of the marriage). One of the grandchildren sued. Upholding a lower court decision in the grandchild's favor, the court found that the provision was "against public policy." This was a case of first impression in Illinois; however, similar provisions in Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts have been upheld. The dissent was written by a Jewish justice.

The majority opinion seems to rely primarily on precedents that voided clauses requiring an intended beneficiary to divorce a spouse for one reason or another and on a scholarly document known as the "Restatement of Trusts, 3rd ed." Restatements of law in different fields do not have the force of law but are often relied upon by courts to help reach a decision in matters which are uncharted territory for that court.