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Should a No Contest Clause Be Included in a Will?

 Posted on May 06, 2022 in Estate Planning Blog

wheaton estate planning lawyerA last will and testament is a key component in any estate plan. Your will allows you to dictate how your property is distributed to heirs upon your death. It can also be used by parents of minor children to name a guardian should a tragedy occur and the parent dies before the children are adults.

The decisions made in a person's will are the testator's decisions to make. However, family members are not always pleased when they learn what a friend or family member's will contains. If a beneficiary doubts the authenticity of a will, they have the right to contest the will in court. A no-contest clause is a provision in a will that discourages beneficiaries from challenging the will in court.

No-Contest Clauses Are Used to Dissuade Heirs from Contesting the Will

There are many valid reasons to contest a will. For example, if an elderly woman suffering from dementia suddenly changes her will to disinherit her children and instead leaves her estate to someone she hardly knows, this is obviously very suspicious. The woman's family may challenge the will based on lack of testamentary capacity.

Unfortunately, not every will contest is brought in good faith. Sometimes, people are simply greedy or jealous. They believe they should have received a larger inheritance than they were assigned in the will. Will contests often result in lengthy, stressful probate litigation as well as family conflict. Because of this, some people decide to include a no-contest clause, which discourages heirs from challenging the will's validity.

How Does a No-Contest Clause Work?

No-contest clauses do not completely prevent will contests. The heirs still have the option to challenge the validity of the will. A no-contest clause provides that if a beneficiary contests the will and is unsuccessful, he or she will forfeit some or all of his or her inheritance. For example, a man may leave $20,000 to each of his grandchildren with a clause explaining that should a grandchild contest the will, the grandchild the $20,000.

Illinois courts do regularly enforce no-contest clauses. However, no-contest clauses must be carefully worded, so the clause leaves no room for misinterpretation or ambiguity.

Contact a DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyer

At Stock, Carlson & Asso. LLC, we help clients design estate plans that meet their unique needs. Our skilled Wheaton estate planning attorneys are equipped to assist clients with wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, and much more. Call our office today at 630-665-2500 for a confidential consultation to learn more.


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