No Contest Clauses in Wills

long island estate attorneysThe formal name for a no contest clause in a will is called an “in terrorem” clause. The purpose of this clause in a will is to prevent a beneficiary from challenging the will.

How No Contest Clauses Work

No contest clauses have to be set up in a will in a manner which gives them teeth. The way it usually works is a beneficiary to the will is left a certain amount of money or assets. This is usually significantly less than said beneficiary hopes to receive. A clause is then written into the will which states in the event said beneficiary challenges the will, he or she loses the money or property left to him or her. This is done to de-motivate this individual from challenging the will.

Challenging a Will

People writing wills often want to leave certain potential beneficiaries either nothing or such a nominal amount which would render this clause ineffective. In the event you seek to avoid a certain potential beneficiary from challenging a will, you should discuss with the attorney draftsman of the will how much would be necessary to leave this potential beneficiary in the will to make a no contest clause workable. If you wish to leave this potential beneficiary nothing or virtually nothing in the will, you would be better off not having a no contest clause placed in the will. It simply won’t work and would provide the challenging party certain legal strategic advantages in the event the will is challenged.


If you wish to disinherit someone, you should meet with an experienced wills and estates lawyer and discuss with the attorney how much it would be necessary for you to leave this potential beneficiary in the will to make the no contest clause a workable solution to disinheriting this person and reducing the likelihood he or she will challenge the probate of the will.assistance preparing wills and trusts