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Should I include a no-contest clause in my will?

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2024 | Estate Planning

It is possible that a will that is meant to articulate your wishes concerning how your estate will be distributed when you are gone could become the subject of a costly legal dispute. As a result of this risk, more and more people are including no-contest clauses in their wills.

What exactly is a no-contest clause and how far can it go as far as preventing a will dispute is concerned?

Understanding a no-contest clause

A will is a legal document that articulates how you wish to have your property distributed when you die. As such, it is generally reasonable to stipulate that your instructions should not be questioned or, worse still, overruled. And this is where a no-contest clause comes in.

A no-contest clause discourages beneficiaries from disputing your will by stating that should they do so, they’ll risk forfeiting their inheritance. Some of the valid reasons why someone might dispute your will include concerns about a lack of capacity, issues with its execution and undue influence. With this clause in place, if a beneficiary disputes your will on flimsy grounds, they’ll risk losing their inheritance.

The main benefit of including a no-contest clause in your will is that it can deter beneficiaries from filing frivolous disputes. As such, it will be more likely that your wishes will be honored and that your beneficiaries won’t waste time and money in court.

A no-contest clause comes with certain limitations as well. One of these is that it only applies to the beneficiaries in your will. Thus, interested parties who are not mentioned in your will can dispute the document. After all, they have nothing to lose.

Protecting your interests

A no-contest clause may seem like an effective tool for preventing unnecessary will disputes while ensuring a smooth probate. To serve this purpose, however, it must be executed properly. As such, seeking legal guidance can help you create an effective no-contest clause.