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By: Scott Grossman on May 18th, 2023

What is a no-contest clause and does California law uphold it?

To understand a no-contest clause, let’s look at what a clause is. A clause in a legal document, such as a contract or a will. Designed to threaten someone. It is usually with litigation, criminal prosecution, or disinheritance into acting, refraining from action, or ceasing to act.

As part of the estate planning process, you or a loved one may have chosen to include a “no-contest” clause in the will or living trust. This provision will cause a beneficiary to forfeit their inheritance if they make an unsuccessful California will contest.

What should you do if you want to challenge the validity of a will or trust that contains a no-contest clause in California?

Keep in mind that California law enforces no-contest clauses in three specific cases:
  • Direct contest filed without probable cause 

Protesting the will’s validity is a “direct” contest. They can consist of accusations of forgery, unsound mind, fraud, duress, or undue influence. Remember that the clause may be enacted if a beneficiary comes forward with allegations of this nature without strong supporting evidence.

  • A creditor’s claim filed against the decedent’s estate
  • Challenges to the ownership of property at the time of transfer

If you are ready to start your case, please call us at (888) 443-6590. Or fill out our Get Help Now form. A comprehensive overview of California Probate is available here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, you will find plenty of helpful information in our Learning Center.