It is not uncommon for a person to put what is known as an “in terrorem” or “no contest” clause in his or her will. This clause states that anyone who contests or challenges the terms of the estate plan will automatically be disinherited.
It is an attractive option for those who want their wishes to be carried out exactly as they have written and who do not want to see someone rewarded who challenges those wishes. Those that do challenge the will may very well find themselves totally shut out on the inheritance.
This may be the case for the daughter of a real estate mogul. Although the trust her father left behind has a no contest clause attached to it, the woman has challenged it because she does not agree with the way her two older brothers have handled the trust. Lower courts have ruled that she does not have the right to challenge the trust because her father included the no contest clause with it. It is yet to be seen whether she will be disinherited for contesting it.
Experts say that a no contest clause is a great way to help ensure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you would like after you die. Another excellent way to make sure this happens is as simple as recording yourself signing the plan and explaining what you would like to see happen to your estate. You may also choose to have your estate plan preapproved by a judge.
Source: New Hampshire Magazine, “Fighting families are heading to probate court,” Jeff Woodburn, July 2013