Should You Set Up A No-Contest Clause In Your Will?

Posted on: 2 November 2015

Even the closest of families can experience in-fighting and disputes about inheritances after a loved one passes away. If you want to make sure that no family member contests your will because he or she feels entitled to more, then a no-contest clause in your will might be the answer. Here are a few things to know about this unique addition to your will.

Your Beneficiary Loses Out In A Contest

If you invoke a no-contest clause, your beneficiary stands to lose any inheritance bequeathed in the will. This essentially presents an all-or-nothing scenario to your relative; either take what is given to you or walk away with nothing. In order for this to be effective, you'll need to leave something of value to the family member most likely to contest the will. If you don't, there is no motivation to avoid a legal battle with other relatives over your estate.

Your Will Must Be Carefully Worded

Not everyone who contests a will is unsatisfied with the amount of property or money left to them. In some instances, a will might be worded in a way that leaves the document open to interpretation. Invoking a no-contest clause, in this case, could penalize a relative who simply wants to make sure that the will is enforced appropriately. For this reason, hiring an experienced estate planning attorney is critical. Your attorney can make sure the will is written in a way that leaves no gray areas or room for interpretation.

Talk To Your Relatives About The Will

If you are considering adding a no-contest clause, you may want to discuss this with your relatives and other beneficiaries first. Anger or frustration over your will can disrupt the grieving process and make dealing with a loss more difficult. Explain your reasoning behind why you are dividing the estate the way you are, and make sure that any family member who may want to contest the will understands that you are still leaving him or her with something of value.

The Clause May Not Be Enforceable

Some states have restrictions on no-contest clauses, which could make it difficult to enforce your will and your final wishes. Florida, for example, will not enforce a no-contest clause. Check with your estate planning lawyer about whether or not your document will be honored by the courts in the event that a relative decides to contest the will.

Choosing to set up a no-contest clause in your will is not an easy decision to make. Talk to your attorney about the possible outcomes and determine whether or not you wish to threaten to disinherit a person who attempts to contest your will.