While Nevada residents may be familiar with the phrase “no contest” from television or other media, it is likely in the context of pleading in criminal law cases. However, this phrase has a much different meaning when it comes to the administration of probate estates and litigation surrounding the enforcement of an individual’s last will and testament.
A “no contest” clause in a will is one that purports to penalize a beneficiary who would otherwise take an inheritance under the will if that individual takes certain legal actions during the probate proceeding. While in some places there may be a question about the enforceability of such clauses, in Nevada state statute specifically requires courts to give force to such clauses except in certain limited circumstances. In fact, a beneficiary may risk losing or having a distribution reduced according to such a clause even for taking action short of asking for formal judicial action. Basically, if the no contest clause penalizes the beneficiary for taking any action that interferes or frustrates the intent of testator, the court will generally enforce it.
However, there are certain specific circumstances in which a beneficiary will not be penalized subject to such a clause. The beneficiary won’t lose his bequest if he is taking action to enforce the will’s provisions, enforce his specific rights under the will, obtain a judicial ruling with regard to construction of the will or if he has a good-faith belief based upon evidence that the will itself is invalid.
Beneficiaries may have much to lose if they contemplate probate litigation involving a will with a no contest clause. For those who are contemplating such a move, it may be a good idea to get more information about probate litigation.
Post Type: Q&A