What Do No-Contest Clauses Have to Do With Undue Influence?

No-contest clauses deter challenges to your estate plan, but you might want to consider terms that allow for legit challenges related to undue influence.

An older woman has a serious talk with another woman.
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There are two ways to approach defending your last will or trust from a claim filed by an individual, or individuals, seeking to alter the terms you have chosen. One way is to simply allow your personal representative or trustee to defend your choices. Another is to include a no-contest clause that disinherits all claimants if they lose their challenge or for even filing the challenge in the first place.

The no-contest clause can be a powerful deterrent for a beneficiary who feels they are entitled to more than the share provided if they know that simply filing the challenge will forfeit even that share. But it is not a deterrent for a relative omitted from the estate plan altogether. And it may thwart an attempt by a relative seeking to actually protect your interest in how your estate is distributed at your death or to recover funds taken or expended by a person taking advantage of you before your death.

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Timothy Barrett, Trust Counsel
Senior Vice President, Argent Trust Company

Timothy Barrett is a Senior Vice President and Trust Counsel with Argent Trust Company. Timothy is a graduate of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, past Officer of the Metro Louisville Estate Planning Council and the Estate Planning Council of Southern Indiana, Member of the Louisville, Kentucky, and Indiana Bar Associations, and the University of Kentucky Estate Planning Institute Committee.