Matthew S. Payne is a Schaumburg-based attorney with a 20-year record of success in civil litigation, real estate law and estate planning.

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The basics of the “no-contest” clause in trusts

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2022 | Estate Planning

In Illinois, there are many ways to ensure that your loved ones respect your wishes after you’re gone. One such way is to include a “no-contest” clause in your trusts and wills. This particular clause has proven itself effective as an effective deterrent against trust contests, and that’s why many people choose to include it in their trust documents.

What is a “no-contest” clause in trusts?

Put simply, a “no-contest” clause is a provision in a trust or will that penalizes any beneficiary who challenges the validity of the trust document. If someone contests the trust or will and loses, they could get disinherited entirely or lose out on a significant portion of their inheritance. This can be an effective way to discourage beneficiaries from contesting trusts.

What are the benefits of a “no-contest” clause?

First and foremost, it can help to deter beneficiaries from challenging the validity of the trusts, which can help to avoid costly and time-consuming legal battles. Additionally, it can help to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are carried out as intended. Usually, trusts are typically created to provide for beneficiaries in a certain way. A “no-contest” clause can help to ensure that your loved ones carry out wishes as intended, and prevent trusts from being challenged by greedy beneficiaries who want more than their due.


In some cases, a “no-contest” clause may not be enforceable in court. For example, if someone proves that the contesting beneficiary had reasonable cause to challenge the trust document, for instance, if they uncovered fraud, then the no-contest clause may not apply. This is also the case if the beneficiaries were not aware of the existence of the clause.

If you’re looking for a way to deter beneficiaries from challenging your trusts, a “no-contest” clause may be just what you need. Just remember that you’ll have to draft a provision that meets your specific needs and protects your interests for it to be effective.