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Can I Challenge A No Contest Clause In A Trust?


After putting all the work into creating an estate plan, it is understandable that you would want to do everything you can to ensure that your wishes will be enforced as written and that your wishes will be honored. For this reason, many testators include no contest clauses in their trusts. No contest clauses essentially penalize any beneficiary who tries to challenge the terms of the trust or litigate any matter relating to the trust. In some cases, the penalty is as extreme as disinheriting them. This can have an undeniably chilling effect, keeping beneficiaries from seeking legal guidance even on aspects related to the trust that would help to better honor the wishes of the testator. So what happens when a trust includes a no contest clause? Read on to find out.

How Florida Courts Treat No Contest Clauses in Trusts

Due to the chilling effect of no contest clauses, Florida courts refuse to enforce them. This puts Florida in the vast minority of states when it comes to its treatment of no contest clauses in trusts. In fact, many other states do enforce no contest clauses in trusts. This means that if a testator’s trust has any kind of no contest clause in it, Florida courts will simply ignore it. This also means that if you are a beneficiary of a trust with a no contest clause in Florida, you do not have to worry about any potential legal ramifications that could result from challenging the trust or litigating issues relating to it. Of course, if you have specific questions about a trust it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced Florida estate attorney before taking any action, however, Florida Statute § 732.517 clearly states that any penalty clauses, no contest clauses, or clauses threatening to penalize an individual for litigating any matter relating to the estate, will not be enforced by Florida courts.

How to Challenge a Trust

If you wish to challenge a trust the first step is retaining an experienced Florida estate lawyer. Your lawyer will review the facts and circumstances of the case and help you determine the best path forward. Common reasons for contesting trusts include undue influence, trustee mismanagement, lack of capacity of the testator, and improperly executing trust documents. In order to have standing to challenge a trust, you must be an interested party. Interested parties include those who stand to receive under the trust, which are generally limited to close family members of the grantor. If you have questions about challenging a trust or if you have standing to contest it, consult with an estate attorney before moving forward.

Schedule a Consultation with Mark R. Manceri in Pompano Beach, Florida, Today

If you believe that you have grounds to challenge the trust of a loved one, Pompano Beach estate & trust litigation lawyer Mark R. Manceri, P.A. can help. Mark R. Manceri is an experienced trust and estate litigator who can help you get the inheritance that you are entitled to. Contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A. today to schedule a consultation.



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