Resolving the Conflict Between Jewish and Secular Estate Law

Fred and Judith are an observant Jewish couple. They have two children, David and Esther. The majority of their million dollars in assets, which comprise their life savings, are in Fred’s name, as is the interest they will use to support themselves during their retirement. Fred and Judith drafted mirror wills, each one giving their entire estate to the other, or, if he or she should die first, to their children David and Esther, in equal shares. Recently, Fred learned that by bequeathing the entirety of his estate to his wife, or to both Esther and David equally, he may be transgressing certain Jewish civil laws.

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