Are no contest clauses enforceable in Texas?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Estate And Trust Litigation

A no-contest clause, also known as the forfeiture clause, discourages beneficiaries from challenging the validity of a trust or will. It states that if a beneficiary contests such a document and loses, they forfeit or lose their inheritance.

The presence of a no-contest clause in a will or trust may dissuade you from challenging one as the consequences can be significant. However, the enforceability of no-contest clauses is subject to certain limitations and exceptions.

The law in Texas

No-contest clauses are generally enforceable in Texas, and courts usually honor them as a result. That said, they may be unenforceable in some instances.

If you can demonstrate that you had just cause for contesting a will or trust and did so in good faith, a no-contest clause may not be enforceable even if you lose the case. As such, you will still be entitled to your share of the inheritance. This can happen if you have reasonable grounds to challenge the document, such as fraud or undue influence.

Seek personalized guidance

It’s important to note that the enforceability of no-contest clauses in Texas can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Courts will consider factors such as the language of the clause and what the grantor or testator intended to achieve. The nature of your challenge also matters.

If you are thinking of contesting a will or trust that features a no-contest clause, it’s best to proceed carefully. On one hand, you do not want to present a weak case and lose. On the other hand, protecting your rights and/or the true intent of the testator is/are important. A qualified and experienced assessment of the circumstances of your situation can help you avoid costly mistakes and make informed decisions accordingly.