It’s fairly common for an estate planner to meet with a client who wishes to cut one or more of his or her intestate heirs out of the estate plan. Like Miss Birdie in “The Rainmaker,” they look at you and say “cut, cut, cut!” But is leaving nothing to an intestate heir or previously included beneficiary really a good idea? Or, should you counsel your clients to give such folks something to think about?
When you have a client who is near death and wants you to prepare his or her will, you’ll have to act quickly. There won’t be time for a complete initial conference, careful tailoring of estate planning documents, and a methodical execution at your office. You’ll have to do only the essentials and in the shortest amount of time. These tips will help if you find yourself in this stressful situation.
State law changes enacted in 2010 have restricted the enforceability of no-contest clauses. Under Prob C §§21310–21311, a typical no-contest clause providing that an unsuccessful contestant gets nothing from an estate or trust is enforceable only against a “direct contest” brought without probable cause on specified grounds. And even if it is enforceable, a no-contest clause may not be an effective deterrent if the beneficiary thinks the amount at stake is outweighed by the benefit of a successful contest.