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When can a no contest clause in a will be void?

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2023 | Estate Planning |

A will dispute after the testator’s passing is not uncommon. This dispute can be time and resource-consuming. Worse still, it can sow a lasting seed of discord amongst family members. It’s for this among other reasons that a testator might want to add a no-contest clause to their will.

The primary goal of including a no-contest clause in your will is to dissuade beneficiaries from disputing the document on frivolous grounds. But is it always enforceable?

Understanding how a no-contest clause works

Basically, a no-contest clause makes a beneficiary’s allotment conditional on their acceptance of the will. This provision states that should a beneficiary contest the will, they may forfeit their share of the inheritance. 

But while you are generally free to include a no-contest clause in your will, certain limitations apply that, if you overlook, might result in the clause being voided. And if the clause is voided, it will be struck from your will. Consequently, this might open the door for your beneficiaries to dispute your will without the risk of losing their inheritance. 

So, when exactly can a no-contest clause be voided?

A no-contest clause can be disputed and voided under certain circumstances. For this to happen, the dissatisfied beneficiary must prove two things:

  • That they are acting in good faith while disputing the provision and the will
  • That their decision to dispute the will is legally justified 

A no-contest clause cannot deter you from disputing an invalid will. For instance, if you were unduly influenced to create a will in a particular manner or if the document is fraudulent, then a beneficiary may challenge the no-contest clause that comes with such a will. 

A will is both a legal and a personal document. Understanding how California estate planning laws work can help you create a will that not only safeguards your interests but also stands the test of probate.