Heirs vs. Wills: Avoid Conflict With A No-Contest Clause

If you are worried that disappointed heirs could contest your will or trust after you die, one option is to include a "no-contest clause" in your estate planning documents. A no-contest clause provides that if an heir challenges the will or trust and loses, then he or she will get nothing. 

When you draft a will you are drafting an estate plan for your assets, your intentions, and your hopes and dreams for your loved ones. You do not undertake the process of creating your will lightly and you follow through because it is important. Because your estate plan is important, it is worth protecting it from attack after you are gone.

Consider a common predicament: you are drafting a will and know that if it is challenged by a spurned heir or for anyone for any reason, it will end up potentially ruined on the shoals of probate for all to see. What can you do?

This is a common predicament. Fortunately, a well-drafted will in many states can include a powerful tool such as a No-Contest Clause. Recently, ElderLawAnswers considered this approach in an "answer" titled "Using a No-Contest Clause to Prevent Heirs from Challenging a Will or Trust."

Essentially, this clause means that any heir who challenges the will in question is immediately disqualified from any inheritance from it. The clause is most effective when a would-be challenger is set to receive something under the will. Consequently, this party is forced into a cost-benefit analysis regarding his or her contemplated challenge. Like anything legal, however, the clause must be carefully conceived and deployed to work as intended.

As a rule of thumb, there are always more powerful estate planning tools available if you need them. Nevertheless, for most people planning their estates, a well-drafted will is the heart of those plans. Be sure that your will does the work it needs to do.

For more information about estate planning, please visit our website.

Reference: ElderLawAnswers (February 25, 2014) "Using a No-Contest Clause to Prevent Heirs from Challenging a Will or Trust"

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