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Reviewing California's views on no-contest clauses

The last thing that you want is for there to be discord amongst your beneficiaries once you are gone. Not only do you want to avoid familial tension, but the thought of the administration of your estate being slowed and having to pay out more in probate cost may concern you. Some might suggest avoiding the potential of disputes altogether by putting a no-content clause in your will. Many have come to us here at The Law Office of Matthew C Yu after having received such advice wondering if it is a valid option. The answer to that question depends largely on the context in which a dispute arises. 

Prior to the past 10 years, those who sought to challenge the validity of a will could petition the court to determine if doing so would invoke its no-content clause. However, legislation presented by the California State Senate in 2008 took away that right by better defining the scenarios in which your no-contest clause might be enforceable. These include: 

  • A direct contest of your will that is not supported by probable cause
  • Accusations that property transferred in your will is no longer yours to transfer (again, not backed by probable cause)
  • The filing of a creditor's claim (if your no-contest clause expressly prohibits this)

The decision to include a no-contest clause in your will is not one that should be taken lightly. Doing so may be viewed by your beneficiaries as you having a lack of confidence in their judgment and/or their moral character. Clear communication about your motives and intentions may go a long way to determining whether your no-contest clause (should you choose to include one in your will) will ever be needed. 

More information on facilitating the administration of your estate can be found here on our site. 

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