An individual who is planning for their estate always wants to make sure that their will or trust will be valid in the courts and, in particular, that those estate-planning vehicles are not successfully challenged. The course of action that many people opt to take in order to avoid the latter outcome is to add a “no-contest” clause to their will or trust.
There may be a variety of circumstances in which a no-contest clause may be necessary, including and especially when an individual wishes to leave more property to one beneficiary than to another — say, for example, bequeathing substantially more money to one child over another child. In such a scenario, the child who has been left the lesser amount may be so upset that they decide to challenge the will or trust in court.
But the inclusion of a no-contest clause will make the person considering a challenge think twice before proceeding with those plans. That is because the no-contest clause will be worded in a way that makes it clear that the person challenging the will or trust in court who then loses the challenge will also be disinherited from any property that may have been bequeathed to them.
It is important to note that only those people who would be disinherited should they challenge a will or trust and lose in court would find a no-contest clause a discouragement from proceeding with the challenge. A close relative who has been left nothing under the terms of a will or trust with a no-contest clause, on the other hand, has nothing to lose, with the exception of legal fees, from challenging such a document.
No-contest clauses are not enforced in every state. But wherever they are enforceable, an individual can seek the help of an experienced estate-planning attorney, who will craft a well-written no-contest clause for them.