A no-contest clause (also known as an in terrorem clause) is language in your Will that essentially gives your beneficiaries a choice: either take what you’ve given them or challenge the Will and get nothing instead.
There are some variations to this language of course – some people just reduce the amount of the inheritance for challenging heirs while others reduce the inheritance all the way down to a single dollar.
This type of clause is to discourage family members from unnecessarily disputing the Will and tying up the estate. And for the most part, the States respect that idea and try to honor the original wishes of the deceased.
In Ohio for example, the no-contest clause has been upheld as the “final word” of the deceased. The problem arises when there is actual probable cause for a dispute, such as a forgery or undue influence.
For this reason, many states have adopted the Uniform Probate Code which allows for contests without reducing inheritance benefits if probable cause exists. Several states have adopted this language but as of this writing, Ohio has not.
So, for the time being, if you want to discourage family members from contesting your Will, a no-contest clause will go a long way in Ohio courts.
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