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Is a no-contest clause ironclad?

You're writing a will, and you mention to a friend that you worry about your heirs starting an estate dispute. One in particular seems like they may be unhappy with your decisions and may drag their siblings into court.

That friend tells you that there's a simple solution: Just use a no-contest clause. It makes it impossible to challenge the will by saying that the person gets nothing if they do.

For instance, maybe you plan to leave that person $25,000, but all of their siblings, who are more responsible with money, will get $60,000. You think they'll challenge it and attempt to get more. With the no-contest clause, your friend explains, they wouldn't even get the $25,000 if they challenged it. The clause is a deterrent.

Does this work? No-contest clauses are real and people do use them. However, these clauses are certainly not ironclad. In some cases, they cannot be enforced. In other cases, they get thrown out. In still other cases, there are exceptions and loopholes that your heirs can use to get around them.

Your friend probably means well and is trying to give you good advice, but this is why you need to be wary of getting advice from just anyone. If someone is not 100% correct in what they tell you, it could lead to some serious mistakes in your estate planning that you would be much better off avoiding.

The real key is to take the time to look into all of the actual legal options you have to help avoid a will contest in the first place.

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