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Can you use a no contest clause in a will in California?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2023 | Estate Litigation

You could use a no contest clause in a will in California to discourage beneficiaries from raising concerns about the will. Conflict between beneficiaries may slow down the probate process. A no contest clause means that anyone who tries to contest gives up their inheritance, which is what makes it effective.

Terms for a no contest clause

A no contest clause is valid as long as no one has probable cause to contest it. If someone has reasonable proof that a will is fraudulent, then they are able to contest it without losing their right to part of the estate.

Enforcing the no contest clause

There are other strategies you can use to ensure your no-contest clause is valid for the sake of avoiding estate litigation. Check the current law to ensure that you follow all of the correct procedures in creating your will. This helps you avoid accidentally giving a reason for someone to override a no-contest clause.

Some testators take a video recording of themselves and their witnesses validating and signing the will for an extra layer of protection. It would be challenging for someone to claim that you signed it under duress if you recorded the event.

The “sound mind” rule often concerns testators too. You could obtain written proof from a psychologist or a psychiatrist at the time you sign your will to show that you were of sound mind.

You might want to explain your reasoning for how you distributed your estate if it wasn’t equally. When people are in grief after your death, they may have a more difficult time believing an unequal division was legitimate.

A no-contest clause is just one of many strategies that you could use to enforce your dying wishes. You could strengthen the clause by combining it with other methods of proving that your will is legitimate.