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Do the New York courts enforce no-contest clauses in wills?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2021 | Estate Administration & Probate |

You don’t want your death to cause a fight among your loved ones, but that is exactly what will likely happen if people don’t agree with how you divided your property.

Even if you have a carefully crafted estate plan, there is a very real risk that someone in your family will take issue with your wishes and demand a bigger portion of the property that you leave behind.

Anticipating family discord and heading it off through estate planning is possible for savvy testators. You could add a no-contest clause that disinherits anyone who challenges your estate plan or undermines the administration of your state.

The New York courts will enforce your wishes

Adding a special clause to disinherit a family member over challenging your estate plan isn’t something you can do everywhere. In Florida, for example, state law makes such clauses invalid. In New York, the approach is exactly the opposite.

The courts aggressively enforce no-contest clauses when properly integrated into a will. A landmark case involving a no-contest clause in New York saw the courts enforce the disinheritance of an heir who hadn’t even brought a formal complaint yet and had merely begun investigating whether there were grounds to bring a challenge. Anything that could slow or complicate the administration of an estate could trigger the no-contest clause.

As someone planning your estate who worries about familial conflict because of their property, adding a no-contest clause and telling your family about it could be a great way to head off any negative impacts that come from the inheritance you leave for your loved ones.