You want as much of your property as possible to pass to the people you love when you die. Careful estate planning can help you minimize the risk of creditor claims and taxes cutting into what your loved ones inherit. Unfortunately, your plans can end up undermined by the selfish actions of one member of your family.
Whether you have a child who has always had an overdeveloped sense of entitlement or you recognize that your children seem to fight constantly now that they are adults, you may recognize that your estate may be at higher risk than average for probate litigation. You may worry about someone challenging your will in an attempt to inherit more than you intend for them to receive.
Should you add a no-contest clause to your will to prevent someone from challenging your documents in court?
The Illinois probate courts do uphold no-contest clauses
A no-contest clause in a will or trust can lead to the disinheritance of someone who brings a challenge against an estate in Illinois probate court. If someone with an interest in the estate initiates probate litigation, they could lose their inheritance.
Typically, the courts will enforce a no-contest clause if a beneficiary of an estate challenges the testamentary documents. People in your family are less likely to file a lawsuit after your death when they realize that they could potentially lose their inheritance for doing so.
There are exceptions testators need to know
It is crucial for you to understand the limitations of the tools you employ for your estate plan. The courts will not enforce a no-contest clause when there is reason to believe that the person who brings the challenge does so in good faith. Essentially, when someone has every reason to believe that there was a valid reason to challenge the documents, the courts will not strip that individual of their inheritance rights.
For many people who might consider bringing an impulsive lawsuit over an inheritance they expected to receive, the threat of losing everything over that lawsuit could stop them from filing. Although it is not a guarantee that the administration of your estate will proceed without complication, the inclusion of a no-contest clause will at least reduce the likelihood of unnecessary conflict related to your estate.
Adding the right terms to your estate plan will help you pass as much of your wealth to the intended beneficiaries as possible.