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Getting around a no contest clause

| Mar 17, 2019 | Estate And Probate Litigation |

It certainly may be disappointing if, after experiencing the death of a loved one in Seattle whose estate you anticipate being a party to, you discover that you are not included in their will (or at least not the to the degree you might have thought you would be). You wanting to question the validity of the will in such a scenario may be justified (particularly if the decedent had previously indicated you would be, but then ultimately were not). However, if the will contains a no contest clause, you challenging could affect any interest you already may in the estate. Many in this very situation have come to us here at Riach Gese Jacobs PLLC asking what to do. 

No contest clauses are essentially deterrents put into a will to keep disputes from arising. They might threaten to reduce your share of an estate (or disinherit you altogether) if you initiate a will contest. Many might support the principle of a no contest clause if it keeps you or other parties to an estate from delaying its administration simply because you are unhappy with a will’s provisions. Yet what if your concerns that a will (or certain parts of it) are indeed not reflective of your loved one’s wishes. 

Rulings issued by Washington State Appellate Courts have confirmed that the estate will not enforce a no contest clause on a will of your challenge is brought in good faith and you have probable cause to initiate such action. The burden of proof will likely fall to you to prove that your concerns are legitimate. If they are, your interest in an estate will not be affected even in the event your challenge is unsuccessful.

More information on the estate administration process can be found throughout our site.