What happens if you contest a will with a no-contest clause?

There are many things that could have implications for a person when he or she is challenging a will here in California. One is whether the will being contested contains a no-contest clause.

Such a clause, when in a will, typically directs that a person loses his or her inheritance under the will if he or she brings an unsuccessful contest against the will.

Are such clauses enforceable? It depends on the state you are in, as states vary in their rules on such clauses.

California does not have an all-out prohibition on enforcing these clauses. However, state law does limit the types of contests such clauses can be enforced over. In most cases, a contest of a will (or other estate planning device) has to have been without probable cause for a no-contest clause to be enforceable in relation to it. Probable cause hinges on whether the facts a person knew when contesting a will were sufficient to justify a reasonable belief that there was a reasonable likelihood that the contest would ultimately be successful.

So, whether a no-contest clause would be enforceable in respect to a given effort to contest a will in California depends on the specifics of the contest.

When a person is thinking about contesting a will here in California and is worried about a no-contest clause and whether it could be enforced against him or her, it can be important for him or her to have a full and accurate picture of the situation. Talking to a skilled estate litigation lawyer could help with this.

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