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Are No-Contest Clauses Enforceable in Nevada Wills?

A testator often inserts a clause into a will stating that any beneficiary who contests the will is automatically disinherited. The no-contest clause is meant to discourage frivolous suits by disappointed heirs who feel they didn’t get their fair share. These clauses are valid in Nevada, but they do not create an absolute prohibition. The Nevada Revised Statutes 137.005 states (in pertinent part):

“Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in the will, a devisee’s share must not be reduced or eliminated under a no-contest clause because the devisee institutes legal action seeking to invalidate a will if the legal action is instituted in good faith and based on probable cause that would have led a reasonable person, properly informed and advised, to conclude that the will is invalid.”

This means that if you wanted to contest your Uncle Jeff’s will, you couldn’t do it simply because your sister got more even though he liked you better. You must show two things:

  • Good faith — This positive attribute is most often defined as the absence of negative motivations, such as dishonesty, duplicity or malice. You must be taking what you perceive to be right action for the right reasons.
  • Probable cause — This phrase refers to facts and circumstances that give rise to a reasonable belief that a crime may have been committed. This is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion, but not as high as proof.

Whether you acted in good faith and had probable cause are questions for the court to decide.

NRS 137.005 is a reasonable balance to the no-contest clause which would otherwise prevent legitimate challenges to invalid wills. If you believe a will might be invalid due to fraud, coercion or undue influence, you should discuss your suspicions with an experienced probate litigation attorney who can advise you on your rights. Call Tyrell Law, PLLC at 702.382.2210 or contact our Las Vegas office online.

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