What is a No-Contest Clause?

no-contest clause

Not everyone’s family gets along. Some people will always fight when they believe they deserve more than others. This can lead to disputes and division within your family. This is especially common after a will reading when the deceased family member isn’t there to settle the dispute. What can you do to help prevent your family and friends from fighting amongst one another after you’ve passed away? You can add a no-contest clause to your will.

If you haven’t heard of a no-contest clause, you should talk to the estate planning attorneys at Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam for help.

What is a No-Contest Clause?

When you believe that someone or multiple people will contest your will no matter how much you leave them, you can add a no-contest clause to the will. It states that if a beneficiary of the will seeks to challenge it in any legal proceeding and they fail to successfully prove the will is faulty, they give up what they would have originally inherited.

This does not deter anyone who was already receiving nothing or little from your will. If they aren’t receiving anything, they have nothing to lose. This means that a no-contest clause is only good for when you have people you want or are willing to leave assets to who may challenge it.

If you have someone you’re not leaving any assets to in your will, who may challenge the will, then the no-contest clause will not do anything.

What if There is Good Reason to Contest Your Will?

When someone contests your will, they are seeking to prove that your will is inaccurate. This can be due to the will being outdated, being written under coercion, or being written while you were not mentally stable.

If someone believes this has happened to your will, and this is proven true, then your no-contest clause can become null and void. This is usually considered a good thing because you don’t want your will to be inaccurate or to follow someone else’s influence.

How Should You Best Utilize No-Contest Clauses?

For no-contest clauses to have any worth, they have to be paired with a significant inheritance. A no-contest clause only encourages people not to challenge a will if they risk losing out on a lot of assets.

For example, if you leave your estranged son $500 in your will, but he believes he deserves something along the lines of $10,000 from your will, a no-contest clause isn’t going to deter him. The money he would miss out on likely feels like chump change, so he would still challenge the will even if there is a no-contest clause. He stands to gain much more if he succeeds, so it’s a sound decision for him. Not only that, he has opened the floodgates for others to help him challenge your will without risking their inheritances.

To avoid a situation like this, you need to make sure that each person who you believe might challenge your will, is already receiving a significant amount of assets from your will. This may not please you, but it can protect your wishes and other beneficiaries.

Going back to the same example, if the son had received $3000 or even $2000, he may not risk it. If you are willing to throw someone a metaphorical bone to keep them from challenging your will, it might be worth it. If you’re not sure, contact the estate planning attorneys at MVSK Law.

Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at MVSK Law to Learn More About No-Contest Clauses

If you’re worried about your will splitting apart your family after you pass away, you have options. No-contest clauses are one of the options at your disposal, and our estate planning attorneys can walk you through the options so you can figure out if this is the right option for you.

For help with any of your estate planning questions and needs, contact us today. We can help you create wills, trusts, denote powers of attorney, and more.

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Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam

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