No-contest clauses are designed to discourage disgruntled relatives from contesting your will or trust by establishing that no one who mounts a legal challenge and loses can inherit a penny from you.

Half of all states–including Minnesota–enforce no-contest clauses unless the person suing had probable cause — a good reason — to sue. The courts don’t want to discourage worthy lawsuits that seek to overturn a will that was made by someone of unsound mind or who was being manipulated by a greedy interloper.

In some states, however, courts don’t enforce a contest clauses, so if a beneficiary sues to invalidate part or all of your will and loses, that person can still inherit whatever you left him or her in your will.

So take all this into consideration. You don’t want a no-contest clause to keep your child from suing to get your will declared invalid if the will really was fraudulent or the result of undue influence over you.

Most states that see a contest based on probable cause won’t prevent the challenging heir from inheriting. Also, your heirs may be able to challenge your executors without violating a no-contest clause.

Make sure there are no mistakes when you include a no-contest clause in your estate plan. If you leave out important property or aren’t clear about property in your possession, your heirs could be completely disinherited if they try to fix any errors.

If you have a real reason to fear a challenge, it’s a good idea to talk to the attorneys at Rochford Langins Jarstad LLC, who are knowledgeable about how courts in Minnesota treat no-contest clauses. Explain your particular worries — who you think might challenge your will and why.  There may be other steps to take to head off a will challenge. For example, you could leave money to someone in a trust in order to prevent him or her from quickly spending that money in ways you wouldn’t approve of. Your conversations should uncover your various choices, including a spendthrift trust.

A no-contest clause can be a good tool. Talking to the lawyers at Rochford Langins Jarstad LLC to determine the best method to protect your wishes at 507-534-3119.