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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    172

    Default Use of a No-Contest Clause in a Will

    My question involves estate proceedings in the state of: Washington

    We have a blended family, and my husband's ex-wife, even after over a decade, is still toxic. She also tends to cause strife with the kids - especially when it comes to money. If one of us (or both) were to die, we are certain she would try to cause a problem with our estate, in spite of having very little it inherit (she gets his pension, but he has since changed jobs, and has separate retirements). This is clearly defined in the will, and the retirement entities, with separate beneficiaries.

    Additionally, our girls hate each other. We have planned for the estate to be shared equally, but we could see them trying to fight among each other.

    We are considering add to our will a no-contest clause like the one below.

    "Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, if any beneficiary contests the terms of this Will, including, without limitation, filing a contest of admission of this Will to probate under [applicable section of the state Probate Code], that beneficiary shall not be entitled to any property under the terms of this Will, and for all purposes of this Will, that beneficiary shall then be deemed to have predeceased me."

    We don't have a huge estate, but enough to fight about. We would like to avoid having to hire an attorney until we have the full document ready for final review.

    Does anyone have any experience with our state law and if a clause like this would have teeth?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    15,988

    Default Re: Use of a No-Contest Clause in a Will

    You could explore having a trust, with an outside party as the trustee once both of you have passed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    17,616

    Default Re: Use of a No-Contest Clause in a Will

    Quote Quoting oldsmom
    View Post
    We are considering add to our will a no-contest clause like the one below.

    "Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, if any beneficiary contests the terms of this Will, including, without limitation, filing a contest of admission of this Will to probate under [applicable section of the state Probate Code], that beneficiary shall not be entitled to any property under the terms of this Will, and for all purposes of this Will, that beneficiary shall then be deemed to have predeceased me."
    I hope you realize that if somebody contests the will they will also be contesting that clause and, if successful, the clause will be meaningless.

    I also recommend a trust with the trustee being an independent, non-family member who would have control over the distribution per the terms of the trust.

    Important: NEVER leave anything jointly to your children. That's guaranteed to foment hostility. Make separate bequests to each of them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Use of a No-Contest Clause in a Will

    Pennsylvania law:

    A provision in a will or trust purporting to penalize an interested person for contesting the will or trust or instituting other proceedings relating to the estate or trust is unenforceable if probable cause exists for instituting proceedings.
    One heir being upset because they didn’t get your golf clubs and they felt they should have is not probable cause to contest a will. There being undue influence in creating the will can be probable cause BUT there must be valid support (probable cause) for the claim lest the no contest clause is likely to be upheld against the party that contested the will. Pennsylvania has ruled that if you contest the will without probable cause, a no-contest clause can allow the objector to be effectively disinherited, if that is what the testator desired.

    Adjusterjack is only partially correct in his statement that a successful contest will result in invalidating the clause. It would if the entire will is ruled invalid. If only a portion of the will is ruled invalid, the clause could remain intact. Not all will contests are intended to or do invalidate an entire will. Sometimes it is nothing more than you already gave away your golf clubs although the recipient allowed you to continue to use them until your death and the administrator believed them to still be your property. The true owner of the clubs would contest that clause (if a specific gifting) or including it in the residue.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    172

    Default Re: Use of a No-Contest Clause in a Will

    Thank you everyone for the great advice. That is all very helpful.

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