Shapira v. Union National Bank
39 Ohio Misc. 28, 315 N.E.2d 825 (1974)
Shapira died, leaving a valid
will and three children, Daniel, Mark, and Ruth. The will gave each child
a third of the estate, with a specified condition...
The shares for Daniel and
Mark were held in trust. If they did not marry a Jewish girl within 7
years, they lost their share and it instead went to the State of Israel.
Daniel contested the will
claiming that the provision violated the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution (14th
Daniel argued that this
restriction was unreasonable and was against public policy.
The Trial Court upheld the
will and entered it into probate.
The Trial Court found that
the freedom to marry is constitutionally protected under the 14th
However the Trial Court
found that Shapira was a private citizen and as such was not required to
meet the same constitutional standards as a Federal or State agency.
Daniel argued that because
the courts were used to enforce the will, it should be required to meet
The Trial Court noted that
if Shapira was still alive and told Daniel that he'd give him an inter
vivos gift if he married a Jewish
girl, Daniel would not be able to force him to make the gift free of the
The Trial Court also found
that Shapira's conditions represented only a partial restriction on
marriage. If the terms of the will were the Daniel could never marry
anyone, or that he had to divorce his current spouse, the terms might be
unlawfully restrictive. However partial restrictions seem to be ok,
based on common law.
Also, the terms couldn't
require someone to do anything illegal.
Also, in order to be
reasonable, the terms in the will have to be very well defined. You
couldn't tell someone to, "marry a nice girl."
An interesting question would
be what if Daniel were gay? Would that make the stipulation that he marry
a girl unreasonable?