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Should you include a no contest clause in your will?

You may have watched your family squabble over various topics for years. Now that you have started considering your estate plans, you may only think of ways that your family will nitpick your choices and potentially cause serious legal fights over your estate. Understandably, you feel stressed that your instructions will only lead to more disputes.

Fortunately, you have a number of options for lessening the likelihood of conflict after your passing. Just creating an estate plan is a beneficial step as your family will at least have some basis to follow, and you could discuss your wishes with your family before it goes into effect in hopes of helping them understand your wishes. Of course, with a family prone to fighting, you may want to take further action.

No contest clauses

As you create your will, you may want to consider a no contest clause. Some individuals may also refer to this clause as a terrorem clause or forfeiture clause, but each phrase refers to instruction in your will that indicates that a person will forfeit his or her inheritance in the event that he or she chooses to contest the will. This clause could help lessen the chances of contests, but you may want to take the following information into consideration:

  • A no contest clause may act as more of a deterrent if the estate involves substantial inheritances.
  • Your estate may benefit from you including specific acts that would lead to inheritance forfeiture.
  • You should include details for distributing any forfeited assets.

You may also want to remember that including a no contest clause is not a foolproof way to avoid probate litigation.

Unenforced clauses

Though Nevada law does allow for the enforcement of no contest clauses, certain details could render your clause unenforceable. Because states have different laws regarding nullifying such clauses, you may want to gain more information on this aspect. However, some common reasons for probate litigation taking place despite no contest clauses include:

  • A loved one contests the will due to believing that it is fraudulent.
  • A loved one believes someone unduly influenced you for a better outcome for him or herself.
  • The executor has breached his or her fiduciary duty, leading to contests.

Though you know you cannot fully control your family, it is understandable to want to take measures to lessen the likelihood of probate conflict. If you would like to gain more information on no contest clauses, you should consult with an estate planning attorney.

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