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How a No-Contest Clause Can Strengthen and Protect Your Will

Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning attorneysDuring probate, the formal vetting process all wills must go through, heirs who believe a will is invalid can challenge that will in court. For example, if a relative worries that his elderly grandmother was coerced into agreeing to her will, he can contest that will. The court will examine the evidence and make a decision to either enforce the will or start from scratch and distribute the deceased person’s property according to state law. Wills can also be contested for dishonest reasons. For example, an heir who is unsatisfied with his or her inheritance may contest the will simply in an attempt to receive a greater inheritance. If you wish to make your will much less susceptible to being contested in court, a no-contest clause may be right for you.  

What Exactly is a No-Contest Clause?

A no-contest clause, often called a terrorem provision, is a set of directions written into a will or trust which addresses potential contests. The Latin phrase “In terrorem” literally translates to “about fear.” It is called this because the provision includes a penalty for anyone who tries and fails to contest the will during probate. If a disgruntled heir challenges the will without justification, that heir may be penalized. In this way, a no-contest clause can help discourage heirs or beneficiaries from challenging a will or trust.

No-contest clauses include specific directions for what happens if an heir brings about an unsuccessful challenge. In many cases, an heir who challenges a will with a no-contest clause during probate risks losing his or her entire inheritance. An heir who would otherwise receive a significant portion of the estate will be much less inclined to contest the will if it contains a no-contest clause.

Justifiable Challenges to a Will Are Still Possible With a No-Contest Clause

It is imperative to remember that a no-contest clause does not make a will or trust resistant to all challenges. For instance, if an heir can show that the testator, or person who wrote the will, was not of sound mind or was unduly influenced when creating the will, the entire will can be invalidated and thrown out.

Lombard Lawyers for Wills and Trusts

If you have further estate planning questions, contact an experienced Lombard estate planning attorney. To schedule a confidential consultation at of A. Traub & Associates, call us at 630-426-0196 today.

 

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/your-money/estate-planning/29ESTATE.html?_r=0

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/09/24/making-bulletproof-will-estate-planning/90949652/

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