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What kinds of conditions is it legal to place on an inheritance?

The founder of Intellicheck, an identification verification firm, died in 2007 at the age of 73. As part of his estate plan, his will left behind a trust for the benefit of his grandchildren.

Under terms of his express wishes, he desired that each grandchild, even those born after his death, would receive a total of $180,000 to be paid in installments beginning when the beneficiary reached the age of 25. Currently, there are three living grandchildren who could eventually claim the inheritance -- but one of those children is excluded by the terms of the will.

However, the will also stipulated that his son must, be married to any grandchild's mother within six months of the first child's birth. Ordinarily, this might not pose a substantial problem, except that in this case the man's son is gay. In addition, he is already legally married to his male partner in the state in which they live.

Together, the couple has a child who was born after the passing of his grandfather. The child is now 16 months old. The child was conceived through a surrogate in 2011 with sperm that was donated from one of the two fathers.

Now the 47-year-old criminal court judge is challenging his father's will. He claims that because his child's inheritance is dependent upon what would be a sham marriage to the child's biological mother, this provision in his father's will is discriminatory, violates state law and is contrary to public policy because it forces him not only to marry someone else, but to marry a woman.

Should a settlement be reached in this will contest, or should a probate court uphold the last wishes of this deceased man?

These questions and this story should be interesting to residents of Florida because it raises novel questions about permissible requirements for inheritances, estate planning for specific concerns and whether one can stipulate terms in a will that may be contrary to those who desire to be in a same-sex marriage.

Source: ABC News, "Gay Man Told to Marry Woman or Son Would Lose Inheritance," Alyssa Newcomb, Aug. 20, 2012

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