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Should you include a no-contest clause in your will?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2018 | Estate Planning And Litigation |

If you have business or personal assets to pass on to beneficiaries in Westminster, you might harbor justifiable fears that your succession desires might cause amongst your loved ones once you are gone. You certainly do not want your family members to fight among themselves over the assets you have to leave to them. You might be tempted, then, to include a “no-contest” clause in your will. Such a clause threatens to disinherit one who challenges the provisions of a will. Yet would including such language in yours accomplish your purpose of eliminating the potential for contention amongst your beneficiaries? 

Not necessarily. No-contest clauses are not simply meant to scare people away from questioning a will. Rather, they are designed to prevent frivolous litigation by beneficiaries. Indeed, Section 21311 of the California Probate Code says that such clauses are only enforceable when contests are brought without any probable cause. The Code goes on to say that probable cause is thought to exist of the reason for one’s contest would prompt a reasonable person to believe that, upon further investigation into a matter, relief would likely be granted. 

Another important point to remember is that a no-contest clause is only enforced after one has contested a will and the court has had the chance to review the validity of his or her claim. Therefore, including one in your will might accomplish your goal of eliminating the potential for disputes altogether. Consider instead to involve your beneficiaries in your estate planning. This allows you to state your reasons behind your decisions to your beneficiaries directly and work through any tension that might arise due to them. 

The information offered here should not be viewed as legal advice, but rather suggestion on helping you maintain harmony within your family once you are gone. 

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