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No Contest Clause

A “no contest clause” is a clause created by the maker of the will, which provides that if a beneficiary under a will challenges the validity of the will in a court proceeding, the beneficiary forfeits the gift provided.  Over the past several years, courts have had to deal with a wide range of issues as to what constitutes a “contest” thus triggering a will’s no contest clause.  This has been very problematic for the courts and for litigants.As a result, the California State Legislature recently enacted Senate Bill 1264 which dramatically changes the rules governing enforcement of no contest clauses.  Although the new bill doesn’t become operative until January 1, 2010, it will apply to any instrument, whenever executed, that became irrevocable on or after January 1, 2001.  Under the new law, the enforcement of no contest clauses is severely restricted and enforceable in only limited types of contests.Should you have any further questions about no contest clauses and whether they affect your legal rights, please contact us so we may best evaluate your situation.