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Can you ignore a no-contest clause?

A no-contest clause essentially means that beneficiaries are not allowed to challenge an estate plan. If they do, then they don’t get an inheritance.

For example, say that there are two beneficiaries, one who receives $100,000 and another who receives $500,000. The person who received less money may want to challenge the estate plan, claiming that they think the assets should be divided equally. But if they do so and the plan has a no-contest clause, then they may have to surrender the $100,000. 

The point of this type of clause is to reduce the odds of an estate dispute. That being said, you may still want to challenge the will. Can you just ignore the no-contest clause and move forward?

It may not be enforced

You can ignore it, although that may risk your inheritance in some situations. However, it’s also worth noting that a no-contest clause is not going to be enforced in every situation.

For example, maybe you have proof that your sibling created a forgery. The will is a fake and you want to challenge the estate plan on those grounds. 

If you challenge and win, then the no-contest clause likely will not be upheld by the court. The same may be true if you have allegations of undue influence or other types of manipulation. In other words, if you have a good faith reason to challenge an estate plan, you can typically do so without risk. A no-contest clause just tries to limit other types of disputes, encouraging beneficiaries to just accept the estate plan as it is.

You may find yourself in a complex situation regarding an estate plan or dispute. As the above shows, challenging an estate plan can be very complex and it is crucial that you understand exactly what legal steps you’ll need to take.


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