When creating wills, testators consider provisions that would not only protect their assets but also make the process less taxing for their surviving loved ones. Probate is already a lengthy process on its own. Disputes and other interferences would only make the process longer. Hence, many testators include a no-contest clause to protect their wills from unnecessary disputes.
The foundation of the clause
Nevada laws require courts to enforce no-contest clauses in wills according to the expressed terms of the legal document and to the greatest extent possible. The rule exists because public policy favors enforcing the testator’s intent.
How does the clause work?
Generally, the no-contest clause states that any will beneficiary who challenges the validity of the legal document or otherwise interferes with the estate administration would forfeit their share of the estate as allocated to them in the will. Beneficiary conduct that could trigger the clause’s enforcement includes the following:
- Initiating a civil lawsuit against the testator’s estate or family members
- Interfering with the administration of a trust or business entity
- Challenging the intent of the testator’s power of attorney
- Challenging other beneficiaries’ designation in a nonprobate transfer by the testator
With the existence of this clause, beneficiaries would have to think twice before acting against the testator’s intent.
A no-contest clause does not prevent a will contest
The existence of a no-contest clause does not bar will challenges. The court will not enforce the clause if a beneficiary contests the will to:
- Enforce the clear and unambiguous terms of the will or documents related to thereof
- Enforce the beneficiary’s legal standing in the probate proceeding
- Enforce the executor’s fiduciary duties
- Obtain court instructions regarding the estate or the will’s administration
The shared goal for probate parties is for the process to be smooth, speedy and successful. Nevertheless, no one can anticipate the conduct of others and whether one will suddenly contest the will. Accordingly, it is useful to know how provisions like no-contest clauses work in these situations.