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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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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.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyersThere are many things to consider when you are creating your Last Will and Testament. One you may have not considered is what will happen if your will is contested. A will contest is a lawsuit that an individual files in order to invalidate a deceased person’s will. Someone might file a will contest because they don’t believe a family member’s or friend’s will accurately reflects their true final wishes. Any intestate heir or beneficiary named in the person’s will can file a will contest.

In previous blog posts, we have talked about challenging the will of a recently-deceased loved one using a will contest. Today, however, we will look at how you can help prevent your will from being challenged. There are a few things that can be done to protect your will. One of these is a provision included in the will known as a “no-contest clause.”

What Is a No-Contest Clause?

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Lombard estate planning lawyersIn a recent post on this blog, we talked a little bit about how to decide if and when you should challenge the will of a recently-deceased loved one. Such a decision is never easy and must be made with great care. But, what about the other side of the equation? Is there anything you can do to help prevent a contest of your own will, if and when the time comes? In fact, there are a few things that can be done, including a provision that can be included right in the will itself. It is known colloquially as a non-contest clause and can be a useful tool in simplifying matters after your death.

What Is a No-Contest Clause?

A no-contest clause is sometimes referred to as an in terrorem provision. In terrorem translates from Latin as “about fear,” and such a clause in a legal document provides some sort of penalty to a party who challenges the document and loses. In the realm of estate planning, no-contest clauses may be used in the creation of wills or trusts to discourage most challenges from named heirs or beneficiaries.

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