Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Shapira v. Union National Bank case brief

Shapira v. Union National Bank case brief summary
315 N.E.2d 825 (1974)

The plaintiff son of testator filed a motion for a declaratory judgment and construction of a will, asserting that a will provision was invalid because it violated the son's constitutional right to marry, and was against public policy.


The testator placed a provision in his will which provided that his two sons would receive a portion of his estate only on the condition that they each marry a Jewish girl whose both parents were Jewish, within seven years of the testator's death, and if the condition was not fulfilled, the share would pass to the State of Israel. Plaintiff son filed a motion for declaratory judgment and construction of the will, asserting that the condition violated his constitutional right to marry, and was unenforceable as contrary to public policy.


  • The court rejected the son's premise that the condition violated the federal or state constitutions, because the provision did not restrict his constitutional freedom to marry, but only enforced the testator's restriction upon his son's inheritance. 
  • The court held that the right to receive property by will was a creature of the law, and not a natural right or one guaranteed or protected by either the state or federal constitutions. 
  • Further, the court held that the provision did not violate public policy because it constituted a partial restraint on marriage, which was a reasonable restriction, and was therefore, valid.


The court held that the condition contained in the testator's will was a reasonable restriction on the son's right to marriage, and was not unconstitutional.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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