• A Florida state appeals court upheld the validity of the state’s “mortmain” law. The mortmain law permits a surviving spouse or child to invalidate a will that leaves a gift to charity if the will was executed within six months of the decedent’s death. The law was enacted primarily to prevent “deathbed gifts” to churches. One court has observed that such laws are designed to “prevent a testator during his last illness from being importuned or otherwise influenced, by hope of reward or fears of punishment in the hereafter, to leave his estate in whole or in part to charity or to the church.” The court emphasized that the Florida law (1) contained a “savings clause” that upheld testamentary gifts to charity even though made within six months of a decedent’s death if a similar gift was contained in a previous will, and (2) invalidated testamentary gifts to charity made within six months of death only if challenged by a surviving spouse or child. These two factors prevented the law from being unconstitutional, the court concluded. Zrillic v. Romans, 535 So.2d 294 (Fl. App. 1988).
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