Relying on a no-contest clause in settling an estate

| Mar 26, 2021 | Estate Planning

You have concerns about your heirs, mainly your children who do not get along. For years, you somehow kept your family united despite the squabbles and disputes between them from childhood through adulthood. At times, those incidents threatened to tear apart your family. And you keep this in mind the entire time while creating your estate plan.

Ensuring a smooth transition in the probate process may or may not be possible in your family’s situation. However, you will do your best to make this happen. Among your worries: The in-fighting will continue even after your death, spreading into the estate’s resolution. In such situations, one legal tool that you can use to your advantage is a will provision known as the no-contest clause.

Challenging a will may lead to no assets

Sometimes known as the forfeiture or terrorem clause, the no-contest clause provision declares that a beneficiary who contests a will loses every asset he or she would have received. In other words, they would get nothing. So, in a way, a no-contest clause is a built-in defense mechanism that makes people think twice before considering challenging a will and stirring up trouble.

It serves as an effective deterrent against a beneficiary who believes they were treated unfairly and decide to fight for a larger portion of an estate. As the testator of the will, you do not want it to come to such an action. You want the fighting to stop. The more fighting, the messier and more expensive the probate process becomes.

A no-contest clause also can result in a temporary truce among your heirs. If their disputes continue, let them continue after the administration of your estate. That way, your beneficiaries will walk away with the assets bequeathed to them.