Some personalities are just too strong to die. In life, they’ve made it their mission to have a reputation – the one who could make anyone laugh until they cried, the over-bearing mother who “always knew best” for her kids, or the sarcastic father who took nothing seriously, even his last Will and Testament.

Willing Sympathy

Heinrich Heine was one of those people. A lawyer by education but writer by profession, Heinrich built a comfortable life before becoming diagnosed with tuberculosis. Having a pretty unstable marriage, he stipulated one condition must be fulfilled before his wife could inherit their estate after he had passed: she had to remarry. But not for concern of her happiness or financial wellbeing. No, Heinrich had self-serving motives. As he explained to his friends, “then, at least one man will regret my death.”

While this instance happened in the 1800s, it is still not uncommon for people to try to use their last Will and Testament as a way to get sympathy (as Heinrich had), control from beyond the grave, or strike revenge. Fortunately for their heirs, the contemporary court system will toss any provisions that are deemed as being against public policy. So what can’t you do?

Even When You’re Dead, It’s Against Public Policy To:

Decide who your children will marry (or divorce!)

You have just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. You start thinking about how you want things to carry on after you die. Immediately, you think about the bozo who married your only daughter and, like always, you cringe. Then you remember her prior boyfriend who you have always adored and “just know it would work out between them.” In your Will, you leave all of your assets to your daughter, but she can only inherit them on the premise that she divorce bozo and finally marry Mr. Right. Don’t ring the wedding bells just yet! To every parent’s dismay, you cannot use your death to force your children to live the life you want for them. Sure, you can have some guilt-instilling conversations before you pass away, but you cannot condition their inheritance on marrying the person of your dreams or divorcing the person of theirs. You also can’t premise the receipt of an inheritance if they do/don’t marry a [insert person of any race, sex, religion, etc].

Hire A Hitman

You’ve spent the majority of your life working at an undesirable wage for a young hot-shot who you despise. In your holographic will, you pencil in $100,000 to your co-worker if and when he “gets rid of” boss man. But, hold your fire. Under law, your Will cannot illicit illegal behavior. This includes murder, theft, assault, or anything else could get you arrested or fined in life. But haunting people – that’s another story!

Convert Others People’s Religion

You were raised in a certain religion and enjoy guiding your life by those beliefs. As love would have it, you fall in love with someone of a different religious background. Despite this one difference, you still manage to share a lifetime together. When writing your Will, you think about how your significant other will spend what you leave. Bills and necessities, of course, but also their weekly tithe to their respective religion. This is your money, and you are upset that you cannot leave as much to your religion as your loved one will continue donating to theirs. So you leave your assets to your partner, but only once he or she converts to your religion. Sorry, Sister (or brother)! You cannot withhold someone’s inheritances on the basis of religious conversions.  You can, however, donate all of your money to a religious organization, or divvy it up among loved ones, beloved faiths, nonprofits, etc.

So What Happens with these Types of Clauses?

Most oftentimes, they are considered void as a matter of public policy and simply ignored. Most courts will determine the beneficiary can inherit without having to adhere to the stipulated language.

What Can You Do? We Know!

While there are definitely some straight-forward things you just cannot control from the grave, there are plenty of provisions you could include, such as sending your kids to college, making sure your pet is provided for and, ultimately, deciding who will receive what of your possessions.

Reign In Your Will Power!

Writing a Will is one of your last opportunities to make a statement and/or live out a legacy – you hold significant authority and power regarding your life and assets, and the futures of your loved ones. We’re here to help you figure out exactly how you can reign in your Will power as effectively, lawfully, and lovingly as you would like.

When you’re ready, contact us to get started at or 248.399.3300.