Your will is an essential part of your estate plan. It offers peace of mind to you and your loved ones and reduces the risk of confusion and legal strife that may arise from an estate dispute after you pass away.
Unfortunately, despite the best-laid plans, disputes can occur. For this reason, you may be considering including a no-contest clause in your will.
What is a no-contest clause?
A no-contest clause, also called a penalty clause or in terrorem clause, is a stipulation in a legal document intended to prevent a person from contesting the terms of the document. In the context of a will, a no-contest clause states that any person who contests the will shall forfeit his or her inheritance.
Why might you need a no-contest clause?
The unfortunate reality is that families do not always get along, especially when they are grieving and there are valuable assets at stake. You might consider including a no-contest clause in your will if you believe that your heirs will fight over your estate.
Is it legal to include a no-contest clause in your California estate plan?
Although you can include a no-contest clause in your will, there is a chance that the court will not enforce it. The court might not enforce a no-contest clause if the person contesting the will has probable cause to do so.
Writing a will does not always guarantee that your family will act in accordance with your wishes. In some situations, a no-contest clause may offer additional protection to your beneficiaries.