Writing a will is a good way to ensure that your Massachusetts assets are distributed according to your wishes after you die. In most cases, a person who writes a will, known as the “testator,” can expect their heirs to comply with the directives in the will. However, there are situations in which an heir may decide to challenge bequests. A non-contestability clause in your will can prevent this from happening.
Why people contest wills
Most people don’t challenge wills, even if they are disinherited or unhappy with what their bequest. However, someone could argue that a will is not valid due to the following:
- Fraud: The will was not actually written by the deceased
- Intimidation: Someone used threats or actual violence to force the testator to write the will
- Incapacity: The person challenging the will believes that the testator lacked the mental capacity to write a will
Will challenges are expensive and emotionally upsetting for heirs and loved ones. One way to discourage them is to insert a clause into your will that states that anyone who files a contest is automatically disinherited.
Be aware, however, that while non-contestability clauses are legal in Massachusetts, there may be cases in which a probate court judge will find the clause invalid. This may be because there is overwhelming evidence that there is something illegitimate about the will.
Preventing will contests
Open communication with family members and heirs ensures that everyone knows what to expect and won’t be unpleasantly surprised after your death. Another option is to place your assets into a trust. Assets in a trust bypass the probate process and can go directly to an heir or heirs, resolving your estate quickly.