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How effective is a no-contest clause in preventing will disputes?

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2024 | Estate Planning |

When you create a will, you do so with one clear goal in mind: to articulate how you wish to have your estate distributed when you die. And most often, the court will recognize and enforce your will. 

However, a will can also be the subject of a costly court battle. If you suspect that someone might contest your will, then you may consider including a no-contest clause to it. But how far can a no-contest clause go towards protecting your will from disputes?

Understanding a no-contest clause

A no-contest clause is a legal document that deters a beneficiary from contesting a will on frivolous grounds. The contract further states that in the event they do, they risk losing their inheritance. This provision’s primary goal is to prevent unnecessary and, at times, malicious will disputes that can prolong the probate, sow seeds of animosity and waste both time and money.  

A no-contest clause has limitations, however

A no-contest clause may be effective at preventing unnecessary will disputes. However, it is important to understand that it only applies to beneficiaries who are listed in the will. In other words, an interested party who is not a beneficiary may still dispute your will. 

A no-contest clause may not be enforced if there is probable cause to challenge your will. While probable cause is not clearly defined in Minnesota estate planning laws, it generally refers to any evidence that can lead any reasonable person to justifiably dispute a will. These may include evidence of fraud, lack of testamentary capacity, improper execution or undue influence. 

Protecting your legacy

A no-contest clause can help protect your will from beneficiary disputes. Find out how proper legal guidance can help you draft an effective no-contest clause for your will.