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Protecting your wishes with a no-contest clause

Creating a will and estate plan is an important part of establishing your wishes for your legacy after you pass away. However, simply using these tools is not always enough to make sure that your beneficiaries do not challenge your will when the time comes. In many instances, family members and other potential beneficiaries challenge a will instead of accepting its terms, dragging out the process of distributing your property and potentially draining the value of your estate.

If you suspect that one or more individuals may take issue with the terms in your will and estate plan, it is important to understand the tools you have available to enforce your wishes. One of the tools that may strengthen your will is a well-crafted no-contest clause.

What is a no-contest clause?

No contest clauses allow the creator of a will to establish "take it or leave it" boundaries for beneficiaries who may challenge a will. Like any legal tool, simply including a no-contest clause is not a "silver bullet" to take care of potential complications. A strong will requires careful creation and attention to detail, to make sure that the language used within it stands up to legal scrutiny.

How does a no-contest clause work?

Including a no-contest clause does not do away with challenges completely, but it does significantly raise the stakes of making a challenge. If a party makes a challenge despite a no-contest clause, they must accept that they will receive nothing from the estate if they lose the challenge.

In some instances, one or more parties may still choose to challenge a will, depending on the circumstances. However, the strong possibility of losing a challenge and receiving nothing is often enough to deter challenges.

Building a strong will is not an easy task, but it is one of the most important things a person can do to ensure that their beneficiaries honor their wishes for their property. If you anticipate conflicts around your estate after you pass away, no-contest clauses may be a tool you can use to avoid unnecessary conflicts in the future.

Protect your legacy today for peace of mind

Building a legacy is not something to take lightly. Without careful planning, legal complications and internal conflicts among beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries can alter the plans a person makes to preserve their legacy.

As you consider your priorities around protecting your legacy, be sure to use strong legal resources and guidance as you need them. A strong will and estate plan go a long way toward protecting your legacy, if they are properly built. With careful attention to detail and a clear understanding of the tools you may use, you can build a strong legacy to represent your values and provide for the people and causes that matter most to you.

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