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Wills, Trusts, and Estates - Part 1

• Several states have adopted "mortmain statutes" that permit heirs to invalidate gifts made to churches and other charities in the will of a donor who dies within a prescribed period of time following the execution of his or her will. To illustrate, a Florida statute makes it possible for a spouse or "lineal descendant" (i.e., a child or grandchild) to avoid charitable gifts made in the will of a decedent less than six months before the decedent's death. Such gifts cannot be challenged if the decedent's previous wills (executed more than six months prior to death) left substantially similar gifts to charity. In a recent case, a Florida court was asked to determine whether this law permitted the daughters of a decedent to challenge a gift made by their deceased father 26 days before is death. Here are the facts. The decedent executed a "revocable trust" and a will in 1979. The will ...

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Posted:
  • March 1, 1989

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