Your will is an important document that lays out exactly how you want your assets distributed to those you love and cherish. It takes time, and careful planning—the decisions you make while creating one are not made lightly. You don’t want anyone trying to change your choices after you’re gone.
The no-contest clause
To prevent your will from being contested in court, adding a no-contest, or terrorem clause could help. Anyone who unsuccessfully challenges the will in court will automatically receive nothing. This threat of disinheritance can make beneficiaries think twice before taking their grievances to court. Without a strong case, they risk losing everything.
Unfortunately, a no-contest clause is not enforceable in every state. Colorado will honor them on a case-by-case basis, but respects the right of someone to litigate if they have probable cause to challenge the will.
There is another drawback to using a no-contest clause. It does not deter someone left out of the will from contesting it in court. Because you have already excluded them from the will, there is no reason for them to worry about receiving nothing from you.
Other methods to prevent a will from being contested
Being open and honest with your family and friends about your estate plans can go a long way to diffuse any potential legal challenges. If you address them in person, they have a chance to ask questions and understand the reasoning behind your decisions. It will also prevent them from being surprised when they read your will.
Another option to prevent legal challenges is to use a trust. Trusts are private and therefore, more difficult to contest. People will have no insight into the contents of a trust, giving them very little probable cause to challenge it.