Will New York enforce a no-contest clause?

As you work through the estate planning process in New York, the potential for discord to arise amongst your beneficiaries will no doubt come to mind. The last thing that you want is to see your estate's administration cause a rift between those that you love. Being transparent with your actions and open about your decision as you are preparing your estate planning instruments may help to avoid beneficiary disputes. There is, however, no guarantee that someone will not be completely satisfied with their designated stake in your estate (or the circumstances under which you made its stipulations), and will not then decide to contest your will. 

Is there a way to deter such action? Including language in your will that constitutes a no-contest clause may do the trick. A no-contest clause threatens to lower one's interest in an estate (or disinherit them altogether) if they contest a will. Some states do not view such clauses as being valid; New York, however, will enforce them in certain situations. 

The only exceptions to non-contest clause enforcement can be found in Section 3-3.5 of New York's Estates, Powers and Trusts Law. Here, it states that any no-contest clause that you include in your will can not be triggered in any of the following situations: 

  • One of your beneficiaries contests that your will is a forgery 
  • The one initiating the contest is incapable of comprehending the consequences of their actions
  • The contest concerns the probating of your will

New York law does not limit your authority to affect one's interest in your estate through a no contest clause. You are not required to offer up any sort of secondary compensation to one affected by such a clause. 

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