The general purpose of a no-contest clause is to prevent challenges by beneficiaries and heirs who feel they have not received a fair inheritance or who have been intentionally omitted from the will to make a will claim against the estate. The no-contest clause typically contains language stating the any beneficiary who contests the will or trust instrument forfeits their right to inherit or receives some other sort of penalty of reduced inheritance. Some states such as Nevada and New York make exceptions for no-contest clauses when a will contest is made in good faith and based upon cause that a reasonable person would have realized that the will or trust was invalid, or there was sufficient grounds to prove the will or trust was invalid such as fraud or undue influence. Florida does not recognize no-contest clauses.
Under the Uniform Probate Code and the Florida Trust Code, Florida law does not recognize a no-contest clause contained in Florida decedent’s will or trust instrument. As a result, an interested party to a Miami decedent’s estate does not have to fear losing their right to inherit the decedent’s assets or other penalties for making a will contest claim in court. The Miami-Dade probate court would basically ignore the no-contest clause.
In other words, whether or not a Miami decedent’s will contains a no-contest clause or not is irrelevant in determining the merits of a will contest claim. The Miami-Dade Probate Court considers only whether there is a legally valid claim being made.
But a court will still not accept a challenge unless it’s valid, and the challenger would need to establish one or more of the below:
• Undue influence
• Decedent was incompetent at time of making and signing the will
• Will was not signed properly or is invalid because it contains unenforceable, unclear intent or illegal provisions
Miami Probate and Estate Attorney
If you are a beneficiary or interested party to a Miami estate and you are concerned about the validity of a will that contains a no-contest clause, or you wish to make a claim against the estate or you need to defend against a will contest or other claim against the estate, a Miami probate and estate attorney can assist you with such matters as well as routine estate and estate tax matters.
If you wish to speak to a Miami estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.