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Understanding the No Contest Clause in Wills

Information from a Will Contest Law Firm Bucks County, PA Locals Recommend

Some wills contain a clause known in legal terms as “in terrorem” or “no contest” in layman’s terms. Many people are not familiar with this clause and how it can affect their or another person’s inheritance. There are also questions about the enforceability of this clause. If you have questions or concerns about a no contest clause in a will, talk to us at Klenk Law We are a will contest law firm with a team of experienced lawyers who have helped many of our fellow community members in Bucks County. A will contest lawyer from our will contest law firm in Bucks County; PA can meet with you at no charge for a brief consultation that may offer you the guidance you need to make informed decisions about how to move forward.

The “In Terrorem” (No Contest) Clause

When a will contains this clause, and a beneficiary violates the intention of the provision, the recipient may be subject to losing all or a portion of the inheritance specified in the will.

Can This Clause Be Enforced?

The answer to that question varies by state and the circumstances of each situation. A will contest lawyer from Klenk Law can review your case and determine the In Terrorem clause’s enforceability. In Pennsylvania, the court will consider the argument against the will.  And, if the judge concludes that the case is valid and justified, she may not enforce the no-contest clause. It’s important to note that merely asking about the In Terrorem clause does not put the person in jeopardy.

Contest Arguments That Do Not Work

Again, this will vary and can be clarified by an experienced will contest lawyer. However, there are some arguments that will generally not be accepted as valid. An example is an argument that voices suspicions without proof that the deceased was forced to write the will as they did, rather than of their wishes. Without documented proof provided by the person contesting the will, their argument will likely fail.  This may trigger the In Terrorem clause. As a result, the court may choose to enforce it.  Therefore, if the court does enforce the provision, the challenger may receive nothing.

How can I avoid a will contest?

As a will contest law firm Bucks County, PA men and women rely on, we have known of a broad range of estate issues varying from family feuds and probate matters to contesting a will and more. No one wants their beneficiaries to have to deal with arguments, fighting, and months or years in and out of court after their death which is why it is essential to keep an up-to-date estate plan, which may or may not include a will.


One of your goals of an estate plan is to ward off arguments amongst your beneficiaries and promote acceptance and an understanding that your wishes have been spelled out. To achieve this; thereby, preventing a will contest, we would recommend that you consider the following:


Don’t Procrastinate with Planning Your Estate

Up to 60 percent of Americans do not have an estate plan. Procrastination is very common and unfortunately can cause a broad number of problems. Realistically you should start planning your estate when you have something to lose, or anything of value, and are of a sound mind. It is not a good idea to begin planning when there could be a question about whether you knew what you were doing.


By creating or updating an estate plan at a time when you were able to make sound decisions and understand the repercussions, or consequences, of these decisions, could prevent a will contest.


If you don’t understand your obligations, goals, or the process, you can always talk with an estate planning lawyer.


Don’t Hide Your Estate, But Don’t Flaunt It

People who choose to boast about an estate to everyone, and anyone, and who has cut a close relative completely out of may be more likely to have their will contested.

It is not advisable to tell everyone who you intend to leave your assets to and what their worth is. Instead, it may be better to sit down and talk with your loved ones about the estate plan, what you have done, and why. Keeping your loved ones informed about the choices you have made can prevent surprises, and a will contest.


Consider a Trust

A revocable living trust is an excellent estate planning tool to help avoid a will contest. This is mainly to do with revocable trusts being private while a living will is public. This means that the document that can be viewed by anyone once it is filed.

To find out  more about will contests and how to avoid them, or even deal with one when it comes up, call Klenk Law.

Klenk Law: We Provide Legal Guidance and Confidence

Every case is different because the circumstances and variables differ. Is someone challenging a will? If so, we can help guide you to enforce your rights.  Are you writing your own will, and worry about a will contest?  If so, we can help guide you to help prevent the will contest.

Will Contests Is What We Do!

At Klenk Law, our legal team of trusted will contest lawyers has helped many people who were challenged with estate issues and estate planning. Call us today and make an appointment for a complimentary case review with one of our trusted will contest lawyers.

What Our clients are saying

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Rocco D.

I have worked with Peter Klenk & his associates for some time now and I have found them to be ultra-qualified, knowledgeable and diligent about their work. I highly recommend them.

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A Google User

Peter Klenk was great in leading us in the estate planning process.He was clear in describing the various steps and what they would accomplish. We were well satisfied and pleased that we had Peter to guide us.

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Chantee C.

Peter recently gave a presentation about Wills & Trusts at my employer, and it was fantastic! He was extremely knowledgeable and provided valuable information to the group. People were very engaged and asked several questions, all of which Peter thoroughly answered. Personally, my husband and I have selected Peter to help us with our estate planning, and he has been very helpful in providing us with all of the information we need to provide a secure future for our family. Thank you, Peter!

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Maxine G.

Peter Klenk made a complex subject understandable and allowed us to move forward with our estate planning. He was patient with our questions and creative in the solutions he proposed.

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Anne W.

I saw four lawyers and was told by all of them; I should just forget contesting my mother's will. I knew what happened, but it is very hard to prove undue influence. I contacted the Law Offices of Peter L. Klenk & Associates. Attorney Amanda DiChello took my case. They were very honest and upfront about what would be involved trying to prove what I knew was true. Attorney DiChello may be young but she is extremely knowledgeable and skilled. She listened and understood what I conveyed to her. She knew exactly what information to use and crafted an outstanding interrogatory and many powerful depositions. Attorney DiChello understood the various emotional feelings this case created for my family and me; she was always there for us with a kind and encouraging word. We went to trial. The amount of work which she and her Paralegal did for the trial was incredible. They both knew my case inside and out! Attorney DiChello's powerful interrogative and thinking skills produced a positive outcome. Attorney DiChello did what other seasoned lawyers said was impossible!

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