How do no-contest clauses protect a will?

There are many ways to write protections of your rights and preferences into your will, depending on your needs and the difficulties you anticipate those who survive you may face. In some cases, it is likely that one or more parties may challenge a will and greatly complicate the execution of your wishes. In these instances and others, it is wise to consider using “no-contest” clauses in your will as an extra form of protection for your wishes.

No-contest clauses set up greater risk of loss to those who might challenge the terms set forth in a will. Will challenges are far more common than you might expect, and even a frivolous challenge can delay the full execution of your will and result in unnecessary legal fees that drain an estate’s resources.

When a no-contest clause exists around a certain distribution of property, for instance, any party who challenges the terms must either succeed in the legal challenge or risk losing whatever distribution the creator of the will intended them to receive. This establishes an all-or-nothing dilemma that may make unsatisfied heirs think twice before needlessly complicating your wishes. While these clauses are sometimes successfully challenged themselves, including them in your will sends a strong message that you expect your wishes to stand.

If you believe that a no-contest clause may meet your needs, you can consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who understands how to create personalized planning documents that stand up to scrutiny. Professional legal counsel ensures that your wishes remain clear and protected as you plan of your future and the future of the ones you love.

Source: FindLaw, “Who Can Challenge a Will?,” accessed Jan. 19, 2018

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