A non-contestability clause, also called a no-contest clause, is a provision in an individual’s will that threatens inheritance redistribution if beneficiaries contest the terms of the will. The goal of the clause is to discourage beneficiaries such as children and spouses to bring will contests to court and lower the chances that anyone challenging the will can win their case. If you’re a Massachusetts resident, here are some important things to know about preventing or minimizing will contests.
Learning about non-contestability clauses
Non-contestability clauses are put in place to minimize or prevent will contests during the estate settlement process. The clause essentially states that if an heir takes the will to court, the heir will forfeit their bequests. However, the effectiveness of the clause is limited since the courts usually permit beneficiaries to contest the terms of the will even if there is a non-contestability clause in place. In many instances, the state court will determine whether the heir has a legitimate case.
Alternatives to no-contest clauses
If you’re planning your estate and looking for an alternative to prevent will contests, you may want to consider using a trust. Creating a trust can offer more protection and make it easier to distribute the wealth of an estate. The assets you place in a trust usually override the probate process altogether so you won’t have to worry about a beneficiary taking the case to court.
To provide even more protection, you can pair your trust with a pour-over will; this will move your remaining estate assets into your trust. An appointed trustee will see to it that your assets are distributed to the correct beneficiaries and according to your wishes.