Did you know that you can put a No Contest Clause into your Will, Revocable Trust or Irrevocable Trust? This type of clause is intended as a deterrent to heirs who may contest your estate document. When it works properly, a No Contest Clause will disinherit any heir who challenges your estate document.
When to Use It
It is not always necessary to use a No Contest Clause, but it doesn’t hurt to include one. You should consider using this clause if you feel a family member may challenge your Will. If you are part of a blended family and there is any tension between your children and spouse, a No Contest Clause is especially important.
If you don‘t include a No Contest provision, your estate is susceptible to challenges. A Will challenge can lead to a prolonged probate, or worse, your Will or other estate document may be deemed invalid. If your estate document is ruled as invalid, your estate will be settled according to state law instead of your wishes.
A No Contest Clause works best if an heir has something to lose. Try to leave at least a little something to each heir in your Will or Trust. A disinherited heir is more likely to challenge your estate plan, since he or she has nothing to lose.
In some states, a No Contest Clause may not be completely effective if a judge rules an heir has a legitimate reason to contest your Will or other estate document. A Last Will and Testament can be contested if the challenger feels the decedent did not properly sign the document, signed under false pretenses believing the document to be something else, signed while mentally disabled, or created the Will under duress from someone else.
If a judge rules there is probable cause for a challenge, your No Contest Clause may not work. To avoid this, make sure your document is legally signed, and that it is apparent to your witnesses that you are mentally stable, know what you are signing and have not created your Will under duress from outside influences.
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