When you are included as a beneficiary of the estate of a loved one who recently passed away in Knoxville, then you, of course, do not want to seem unhappy with whatever your interest in the estate is. What if, however, the decedent had promised to leave you a certain asset or piece of property, yet that stipulation was not included in their estate instruments? Many in this same position have come to us here at The Hurley Law Firm, P.C. worried that if they raise their concerns, they may be at risk of triggering any no-contest clauses that were included as part of a decedent’s will. Is this the case?

No-contest clauses are clauses included in a will or trust instrument that threaten to limit your interest in an estate (or disinherit you completely) if you choose to challenge its provisions. Such clauses are meant to be deterrents to challenges. Yet applying a blanket-type enforcement to no-contest clauses overlooks the possibility that legitimate concerns may exist that a decedent was unduly influenced to change their estate plans. Such influence may come from another with an interest in the estate, or due to a breakdown in a decedent’s judgment due to the factors incident with age or the deterioration of their physical or mental health.

Tennessee law recognizes this potential. According to information shared by the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the state is among many others that do not enforce no-contest clauses if you have probable cause to question the terms of one’s will, and your challenge is initiated in good faith.

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