It’s your property, and you want to do with it as you choose, which is the point of good estate planning. However, your beneficiaries may not agree with your choices, deciding to challenge them instead. Perhaps you’ve considered including a no-contest clause – will it work?
What is a no-contest clause?
Also known as an “in terrorem clause,” the no-contest clause has been around for a long time. Its purpose is to frighten beneficiaries who would otherwise seek to challenge the terms of a will or trust. The clause would state that any beneficiary who chooses to bring such a challenge would automatically be disinherited as a result. The person making the trust or will, in turn, gains at least a measure of protection against those who would be unsatisfied with its terms.
Are they effective in Florida?
In short, no they are not. No-contest clauses are widely used throughout the United States, as most states still permit them to at least some extent. Florida, however, does not. Florida Statute Section 732.517 specifically states that no-contest clauses which are used in a will cannot be enforced. Section 736.1108(1) does the same thing with respect to trust instruments. So, while it is not illegal to include a no-contest clause, Florida law prevents it from having any effect.
Including a no-contest clause may not be your only option to prevent future infighting amongst your beneficiaries. To learn more about what you can do to ensure your wishes are fulfilled, speak to an attorney who is experienced in Florida estate planning.