Freedom of Testation/Freedom of Contract

74 Pages Posted: 13 May 2010 Last revised: 4 Jul 2011

Date Written: May 12, 2010


This Article argues that lawmakers ought to recategorize inheritance law and contracts law as cognate bodies of doctrine within a larger genus of transfers law. The Article proceeds to examine comparatively the justifications for freedom of contracts and freedom of testation, concluding that their underlying rationales are largely, although not entirely, symmetrical. This conclusion suggests the usefulness of comparative analysis of substantive limitations imposed on each of the two freedoms, which may prove inconsistent with each other or, what is worse, incompatible to the extent that contractual forms of transfer can functionally substitute for testamentary forms of transfer. In fact, such inconsistencies and incompatibilities do exist within several of the doctrines currently limiting a testator's freedom to craft an estate plan. These findings suggest the need to reconcile substantive doctrines within the fields of wills and contracts, a process that will require lawmakers to redraw the boundaries of freedom of testation.

Keywords: freedom of contract, freedom of testation, conditional bequests, no-contest clauses, in terrorem clauses, slayer statutes, capricious purposes, noncharitable purposes, elective share, inheritance rights of children, future interests, trust modification

JEL Classification: K11, K12, K19, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Hirsch, Adam Jay, Freedom of Testation/Freedom of Contract (May 12, 2010). Minnesota Law Review, Forthcoming, FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 449, FSU College of Law, Law, Business & Economics Paper No. 10-10, Available at SSRN:

Adam Jay Hirsch (Contact Author)

University of San Diego ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
United States

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