A No Contest Clause, sometimes referred to as an in terrorem clause, is used in wills to prevent a beneficiary from challenging provisions in a will. The No Contest Clause would state that if a beneficiary challenges the validity of the will, he receives nothing.
A beneficiary might challenge the validity of the will if he stands to receive a greater amount without a will. If a will is declared invalid, the property in the estate is transferred in accordance with state law as far as who receives the property. The distribution under state law might be very different from the distribution indicated in the will.
In Illinois, No Contest Clauses are allowed, but the courts construe them strictly. One Illinois case allowed a challenge to a will with a no contest clause citing that the challenge was brought in good faith.
A strategy sometimes used to keep a beneficiary from challenging a will is to leave him something of value so that he does not want to risk losing it if he is unsuccessful with his will challenge.
Contact an estate planning lawyer for further information.