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Our accounts have inactive checkbox. When this is checked users should not be able to create new tasks/events

I tried validation rules like: (on both task and events)

AND( ISNEW(), $Profile.Name <> "System Administrator", Account.Inactive__c = true )

Users are still able to save new activities. Is this even possible with validation rules?

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For this use case i would suggest using trigger validation on the child objects. In the beforeInsert context look if the related account has inactive=true then addError to prevent the insertion.

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