No contest clauses are included in wills and trusts to discourage dissatisfied beneficiaries from challenging the document’s validity. Because enforcement of these clauses results in disinheritance, the California Probate Code limits their applicability. But what happens when a beneficiary defends a trust amendment that is found to be invalid? Can the defense of an invalid amendment be deemed a contest of the original trust?
The California Court of Appeal held last month in Key v. Tyler (2019) 34 Cal.App.5th 505 that a beneficiary’s defense of an invalid amendment to a trust, if made without probable cause, indeed can trigger a no contest clause and result in disinheritance. The court also confirmed that anti-SLAPP motions can be filed against petitions to enforce no contest clauses, a topic we have written on previously. Continue Reading