When a person dies, their will provides instructions on how to distribute their assets. If the will is contested, it means that someone is challenging its validity. There are a few different grounds on which a will can be challenged, such as duress, lack of capacity, or undue influence. However, when someone is thinking about challenging a will, they must be aware of potential "no contest" clauses.
What is a "No Contest" Clause?
A "no contest" clause, also known as an "in terrorem" clause, is a provision in a will that attempts to prevent beneficiaries from challenging the will. If a beneficiary tries to contest the will and loses, the "no contest" clause typically provides that the beneficiary forfeits their interest in the estate.
What is the Purpose?
The rationale behind these clauses is that they help protect the testator's wishes and prevent beneficiaries from wasting time and money on litigation. In some cases, no contest clauses may also help preserve family relationships by discouraging beneficiaries from engaging in protracted legal battles. However, there is always a question of whether the "no contest" clause was added under undue influence or duress.
Can a Will Still be Challenged?
While a "no contest" clause is designed to discourage challenges to a will, it is not always effective in preventing them. State laws vary on whether or not a "no contest" clause will be enforced. In Virginia, wills can still be contested by beneficiaries at the risk of losing any potential inheritance outlined in the will. Remember that if a will is successfully contested, then the no contest provision would be invalid, just like the rest of the will.
Will Contest Attorneys in Virginia
The will contest attorneys at Obenshain Law Group have a wealth of experience helping people through will disputes. We understand the complex legal issues involved in these cases, and we know how to navigate the court system to get the best possible outcome for our clients. Whether you're challenging the validity of a will or disputing the distribution of assets, we can help.
If you are thinking about contesting a will, call us today at (540) 318-7360 or fill out a form online for a free and easy consultation.