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Avoiding Estate Planning Mistakes- Step 7

Use no-contest clauses properly.

Jack was very unhappy with his daughter, Carol.  She had no interest in being part of Jack’s life and in fact, refused to let her father see her children (his grandchildren).  So, Jack, with regret, decided to leave his assets to his two other daughters, Jane and Beth; but was concerned that Carol would challenge his Will and try to inherit one-third of his estate.

A no-contest clause is a very common technique used by estate planners when drafting a will. The no-contest clause sometimes referred to as an “in terrorem” clause,  states if anyone contests the will they get nothing. This is an effective tool, but of course, only effective if the will provides for the disinherited person. If the disinherited person gets nothing under the will anyway, there is no incentive for them not to contest the will. In New York, if a person contests the Will and is successful, then the no contest clause is voided.

So, Jack can protect his two daughters, Jane and Beth, by taking proper steps when preparing his Will.  For example, Jack can provide for a no-contest clause and leave his daughter, Carol $10,000.


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