FAQ : No Contest Clause in Wills; Is it effective?

  • August 13, 2017
  • 12:50 pm
  • Kainat Singh

A will is a legal statement of an individual regarding what should be done with his property (movable or immovable) after his demise. A will has to be signed/attested by an individual in a state of complete awareness alongside attestations from two witnesses. The same can be registered under the Indian Succession Act as well.

Both registered and unregistered wills can be contested. A will that has been made by an intoxicated individual or an individual of an unsound mind can be contested on the ground that the individual was unaware of the consequences of such a will.

While a will can be contested on the basis or fraud, coercion, undue influence etc. an important clause that was also added by Frank Sinatra in his will was the “No Contest Clause”

A no contest clause can be added to the will in order to ensure that an individuals wishes are met after his demise and that no disputes occur with regards his property.

How does it work?

A no contest clause is a fairly interesting yet subjective phenomenon that is all the rage in America, however the same is not very religiously followed or implemented in India. How a no contest clause works in a will is through the backing of threats for the violation of the same.

The most common no contest clause aims at threatening an individual that he might lose his claim in the will (share in the property) in case the will is not followed.

What should be kept in mind?

While a no contest clause in a will can be an extremely successful deterrent for any problems that the family might feel are present with the will. However the threats in a no contest clause can actually also deter a party with a legitimate cause from putting forth its case.

Such a clause however cannot guarantee that the will might not be contested. The wordings of a no contest clause can also be subject to a lot of loopholes and exemptions. The terms may be misread or misinterpreted.

A no contest clause and its threats however may sometimes not apply to those whose name has not been added in the will to begin with and thus they might contest it regardless of any threat.

Should one include the no contest clause in India?

One can, however it is purely based on the discretion of the court and the facts of the case that such a clause may be effective or not. Even in America, it is based on the individual laws and practices of the state that the no contest clause is effective; for instance, Florida does not believe in the efficaciousness of a no contest clause and the same is not accepted.