One of the things you want to try to avoid when you die is having someone contest your Will. (The other thing is probate. But that is the subject of other posts.)
Why is that, you ask?
Because will contests embroil your estate and family members in bitter and often prolonged legal battles. They can tear families apart and drain your estate of a good portion (if not all) of the inheritance you wanted to leave to your heirs.
One way that people often try to avoid will contests is by having a “no contest” clause in their will.
But do they work?
What are No Contest Clauses?
A “no contest” clause in a will basically says that if anyone contests the will, that person will loose whatever inheritance was provided for him (or her) in the will.
Sounds like it should keep people from contesting the will, right?
Well, not really.
Do They Work Well?
There are several problems with “no contest” clauses, but the biggest one for those of us who live in Arizona is that the courts do not like them. Which means that no contest clauses rarely work in Arizona.
For example, if the will is invalid in some way, and the court finds that the person contesting it had a valid reason (“probable cause”) for contesting it, the court will not enforce the “no contest” clause in the will — even if the person ultimately loses.
That means that the clause you put in your will saying “if anyone contests this Will, they will be disinherited,” will just be ignored; and even if the person contesting your will was wrong, they can still inherit from you, as long as the court finds they had a good reason to contest your will in the first place.
On the other hand, there may be genuine reasons for you to include a “no contest” clause in your will.
So, what should you do?
Consult with experienced and knowledgeable estate planning counsel.
Because every person’s situation is unique to them, you cannot know whether having a “no contest” clause in your Will is right for you or not, unless you seek advice of counsel.
We Can Answer All Your Questions.
If you want to know whether including a “no contest” clause in your Will is right for you, call us. We offer free consultations, and we serve all of Arizona. Our offices are located in Sedona, Arizona and our practice focuses on trusts and estates law. We can answer all your questions and help you. Call us at 928-282-1483 or send us an e-mail.