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The no-contest clause in a will

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2024 | Estate Litigation

A beneficiary or any interested party can contest a will if they can prove the testator (the person who made the will) lacked testamentary capacity, was influenced to write the will in a certain way or failed to follow the necessary procedures. However, a testator can prevent this by including a no-contest clause in their will.

Here is what to know about this clause:

What is it?

A no-contest clause is a provision in a will that imposes a condition upon beneficiaries and interested parties that they will not dispute the will, and should one do it, they will lose their inheritance or any other financial interest.

In California, this clause can only be enforced in three contests. First, when the party that wants to contest the will (the contestant) lacks probable cause. For probable cause to exist, the facts known to the contestant when filing should cause a reasonable person to believe the court will grant their request after further investigation.

The second circumstance in which the no-contest clause can be enforced is when one challenges a transfer of property, claiming it was not the transferor’s property at the time of transfer. Note that this can only happen if the no-contest clause clearly states so.

And lastly, the no-contest clause shall be enforced during the filing of a creditor’s claim or prosecution of an action based on it, provided the clause expressly provides for this application.

Is the clause beneficial?

An enforceable no-contest clause can reduce the chances of damaging litigation by disappointed parties and make it more likely that loved ones receive their inheritance promptly.

Contesting a will that includes a no-contest clause can be difficult. Ensure you obtain adequate information if you wish to do so.