Do you suspect that one of your beneficiaries may contest part or all of your Last Will and Testament? If so, you may wish to speak with your attorney about including a No Contest Clause in your Will.
Who Can Contest
Any current beneficiary, any beneficiary from a previous version of your Will who is now disinherited, or any heir at law can challenge your Last Will and Testament. This contest may be for one of four reasons: your Will was not signed according to law, you were not mentally competent to sign, someone fraudulently convinced you to sign, or a beneficiary had a major effect on provisions placed within your document (undue influence). A Will contest may hold up probate for additional months or even years. A long probate could cost your family and estate more money.
What a No Contest Clause Does
A no contest clause is a provision in your Last Will and Testament that aims to keep beneficiaries from contesting your Will. This clause states that if any beneficiary tries to challenge your estate document he or she will be completely disinherited.
Will It Work?
A No Contest Clause does not always work, and in fact it does not work at all in some states, such as the state of Florida. So why bother putting it in, if it may not work? Just the existence of the clause may be enough to deter your family members from protesting any part of your document. If you have left something to a family member in your Will, he or she will know what may be lost by contesting.
If you have disinherited a beneficiary in your Will, he or she will have nothing to lose and will feel no pressure to avoid a challenge. For this reason, it is sometimes advisable to leave at least something to every beneficiary and heir at law to make a no Contest Clause more meaningful.