Can you contest a will with a no-contest clause?

On Behalf of | Aug 20, 2021 | Will Contests

Your mom dies and leaves everything she and your dad built up together to Brad, her new boyfriend. While you are happy that Mom found happiness with a 21-year-old croupier after dad died, you are not so delighted at being cut out of the will. What is more, you are confident this is not what your father would have wanted. He would have wanted the estate to go to you and your siblings.

You talk with your brothers and sisters and decide you will contest the will. Then your attorney points out your mom put a no-contest clause in. What now?

Is it worth challenging a will despite an in-terrorem clause?

No contest clauses or in-terrorem clauses, as they are officially known, are designed to scare you out of filing a will contest. They do this by threatening the loss of things you were due to receive if you launch a challenge. So, if everything is going to Brad, and you and your siblings will get nothing, then the only thing you have to lose is the legal expenses of the challenge.

If, however, your mom left you something and contesting her will would mean forfeiting that, you need to decide whether or not the gamble is worth it. Unlike the poker table where she met Brad, it is not entirely down to chance.

Typically Ohio courts uphold no-contest clauses, and unlike some states, they do not make exceptions for reasonable grounds, so you may need to look at other avenues. If, however, your mom did not include such a clause, there are various grounds on which you can seek to reclaim the estate you believe should be yours.


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