Most parents attempt to impart their values to their children throughout the parents’ lives. As everyone knows, the parents often have mixed success. In some cases, people have taken it further and attempted to use their estate plans to continue making sure that children and grandchildren continue to have the same values that the parents and grandparents held. However, there are some legal issues concerning how far you can go with this strategy in an estate plan.
A common way for people to use their estate plans to continue imparting their values is to disinherit a child or grandchild if he or she marries someone of a different religious faith. This strategy has met with limited success. Illinois has previously allowed it, but some other states have said that it violates the public policy of freedom to choose who you want to marry.
Beyond the legal complications, these types of clauses can create rifts in families and it is unclear whether they actually have any real effect in imparting values to children and grandchildren. Just because someone does not marry someone of a different faith does not mean that they still believe in the faith. You can do a lot with your estate plan, but that does not mean that everything you can do with it is a good idea.