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Can you use a non-contestability clause in Massachusetts?

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2022 | Will Contests

A non-contestability clause in a will states that the decedent will disinherit any beneficiary who contests the will. Other terms for this type of clause are no-contest and incontestability.

Limitations of a non-contestability clause

Non-contestability clauses may reduce the chance of will contests, but they don’t entirely prevent them. A beneficiary still has a legal right to contest your will, although they may lose their inheritance for doing so. Massachusetts doesn’t allow contests over a beneficiary disliking your terms. Grounds for will contests include fraud, undue influence, testator incapacity and mistakes. Contesters have to provide evidence to prove that any of these situations is true.

Other options besides a non-contestability clause

You don’t necessarily need a non-contestability clause to protect your wishes. Trusts and assets that automatically transfer to a beneficiary upon your death are ways around potential will contests. These types of financial accounts don’t go through probate either. Your beneficiaries can receive their assets faster when they don’t go through probate. You may want to utilize both a non-contestability clause and assets that don’t go through a will to protect your desires.

Pour-over clause

Another type of estate planning strategy to consider is a pour-over clause. This type of clause stipulates that remaining assets from your estate will deposit into a designated trust. You can reduce disputes by including a pour-over clause.

Write and sign the will correctly

It’s crucial that you check the current state law on how to write and sign your will. Failing to follow the correct procedures in creating your will voids it. You need two witnesses who aren’t your beneficiaries. They must witness you sign the will, then sign it themselves as confirmation that it’s valid.

Non-contestability clauses are one way to protect wills in Massachusetts. Although it’s unlikely that someone would attempt to fraudulently invalidate your will, taking the protective steps that you can is wise.