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Lombard estate planning attorneyWhen a person dies, the impact of the death can be great on the person’s surviving family members and friends. The emotions associated with a loss—especially one caused by a premature death—can make a grieving survivor act in uncharacteristic ways. Such behavior can lead to disputes over all sorts of matters, including the terms of the deceased person’s will. A battle over inheritances can be devastating to a family, and the resulting scars can last for years, if not forever. If you are currently drafting your will, you may want to think about including a no-contest clause to reduce the chances of such problems after your death.

What Is a No-Contest Provision?

No-contest clauses are also called in terrorem provisions, which is Latin for “by way of threat.” In essence, no-contest clauses threaten any named heir who contests the will, and they are used to discourage family in-fighting after the death of the will’s creator. Most no-contest clauses hold that an heir who formally contests the will automatically forfeits the portion of the estate that was originally intended for him or her. Sometimes, a no-contest clause might reduce the inheritance of a heir who challenges the will to $5 or another nominal amount.

The basic idea is that if that if the possibility exists that the heir will receive nothing, he or she is more likely to accept the original terms of the will, even if they are not to the heir’s liking. Keep in mind that a no-contest clause cannot stop a will contest from being filed. It can only affect what might happen after the contest.

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