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Understanding no-contest clauses

You may often be placed in a precarious position when you are party to the estate of a loved one in San Jose. If, for example, the terms of your family member or friend’s will are not what you anticipated (and you choose to challenge them), many might write off your actions as you simply being petty. Yet there may indeed be a number of valid reasons for you to challenge the terms of a will (such as the decedent promising you a certain asset or property during their life, yet that stipulation not being in their will). Many in your same position have come to us here at Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann LLP concerned that such a challenge will automatically invoke a will’s no-contest clause. 

No-contest clauses are stipulations placed in estate instruments that limit one’s interest in an estate if they choose to challenge the terms of the instrument. Oftentimes, a no-contest clause might disinherit you entirely if you object to the terms of the will. Yet no-contest clause enforceability has often been a topic of debate. Thus, the state has outlined when such clauses are actually enforceable. 

Per Section 21311 of the California Probate Code, a no-contest clause is only enforceable in the following situations: 

  • A will contest is brought without probable cause
  • A challenge to the transfer of property is brought under the idea that the property did not actually belong to the decedent
  • The filing of a creditor’s claim or the prosecution of an action against it

If you have a legitimate cause to dispute the terms of an estate, you may be able to initiate a challenge without the threat of having your interest in it affected. 

You can learn more about properly dealing with estate litigation by continuing to explore our site. 

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