One of the main purposes of estate planning is to avoid contention amongst your beneficiaries once you are gone. With your wishes clearly stated in your estate planning documents, how can one even think to challenge them? As many of those that our team here at Dale & Eke have worked with in the past can attest to, beneficiaries often have a way of questioning what a decedent’s actual desires were when writing their wills. To avoid the potential for any dispute arising amongst the family and friends you name in your will, some might encourage you to include a no-contest clause. Yet is such a clause enforceable?
A no-contest clause is any language that threatens to limit one’s interest in an estate should they challenge a testator’s provisions. The fear of potentially being disinherited will often quell the concerns some may have over your will. Yet the law does recognize that there may indeed be legitimate cases where one’s decisions were unduly influenced or where one was not in a right state of mind to make estate designations. Thus, some courts have deemed no-contest clauses to be invalid.
What is more, for many years the state of Indiana stood by Florida in being the only two states in the country that did not recognize no-contest clauses in a will. However, that all changed with the state’s 2018 legislative session, in which the state officially recognized no-contest provisions as being valid. While certain situations might still invalidate a no-contest clause (such as a party proving that their challenge of a will is justified and in good faith), you can generally include them in your will with the expectation that the court will honor them.
More information of potential estate planning provisions can be found throughout our site.