Conditional Gifts in Wills Part 2 – The Bachelor

If you’ve read Part 1 of this mini-series then you should have a general idea about what a conditional gift is, what grounds you can challenge it on and what it means if you’re successful in your challenge when the conditional gift is based on a condition precedent versus a condition subsequent.

If you haven’t read Part 1, don’t fret this should be relatively easy to follow, after all I’m going to be discussing it against the backdrop of a Chris O’Donnell and Renee Zellweger romantic comedy.

So here’s a quick synopsis of the plot:

Jimmy and Anne have been together for three years. Despite being in a relationship Jimmy is 100% commitment-phobic and completely blows his proposal to Anne, which then leads to an untimely breakup. Particularly untimely, because Jimmy soon learns that he’s inherited his newly departed Uncle’s successful business worth $100 million dollars. However, to keep the business he has to be married before his 30th birthday, which so happens to be the day after the Will was heard. Additionally, his marriage must last for 10 years, he and his new wife cannot spend more than one week apart at any given time and they must produce a child within the first 5 years of their marriage.

Should Jimmy Challenge his Uncle’s Will?

In this movie we’re dealing with a condition subsequent, so if Jimmy successfully challenges the conditions placed on his inheritance in court, then he will still get to keep his Uncle’s $100 million dollar company. Considering the short timeframe Jimmy has to find a wife, and the life he would have to lead for the 10 years following his marriage, I definitely think going through the court is Jimmy’s more attractive option and that’s not something people commonly say in the legal field.

Is Jimmy’s Challenge Impossible?

I don’t think a solicitor would find it particularly difficult to convince a court that a condition requiring someone to find a husband/wife within a 24-hour period is an impossible one. However, that’s not to say you can simply phone this in. If Jimmy was to challenge the Will he would not be unopposed, the executor of his Uncle’s estate would be the defendant in the matter and the solicitor acting for the executor would be required to do his upmost to make sure that the condition is upheld as valid. Nevertheless, this ground would be among Jimmy’s strongest arguments.

Is Jimmy’s Challenge Against Public Policy?

Forcing someone into a likely loveless marriage for 10 years, during which time they must attempt to produce a child is a condition that smacks of ‘against public policy’. I think the Court would have a difficult time justifying upholding a condition such as this. So, if Jimmy fails going down the ‘impossibility’ route he would likely find a great deal of traction on this ground.

Is Jimmy’s Challenge against a Rule of Law?

In short, the answer is yes. If you’re married or have been married before you would know that a Notice of marriage has to be filed no later than 1 month before the date of your marriage. So, a condition requiring someone to be married within 24 hours is a condition that contradicts the Marriage Act 1961 and therefore would be deemed invalid. Consequently, if Jimmy failed on the above two grounds, he’d likely find his footing on this one.

What lessons have we learnt about Conditional Gifts from Part 1 and 2 of the series so far?

One of the key takeaways is that if you have made your fortune and you want some control over who gets it, how they get it and how they can use it after you’re gone, use some of that fortune during your lifetime to obtain some excellent, well rounded estate planning advice.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided as general information only. It is not intended to be legal advice and it should not be used or relied on as legal or professional advice.

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