No contest clauses in wills.

Robert Ray

In Terrorem Clauses

There are many no contest clauses in wills in Texas. These no contest clauses are also referred to as in terrorem (latin for in or about fear) clauses or forfeiture clauses. These basically say that anyone who contest the will looses their inheritance under the will.

Texas Courts

Texas Courts don’t like to enforce these forfeiture clauses if there is a reasonable way to avoid enforcement. Many courts created a good faith exception. If a contest was brought in good faith, there was no forfeiture. Creative lawyers started drafting in terrorem clauses in wills to get around the good faith exception.  They added new provisions to the in terrorem clause.  These provisions dictated that the contestant forfeited his inheritance under the will even if the contest was brought in good faith and with probable cause. Although courts found ways to avoid forfeiture, some of these provisions have been upheld in some cases even if the contest was brought in good faith. I have written about no contest clauses and Texas wills here.

New Texas Law

The Texas legislature recently passed a bill that addresses in terrorem clauses and the good faith issue. The new law voids in terrorem clauses in wills and trust if a contest of the will or trust was brought in good faith even if the will says otherwise. So, even if the will provides for a forfeiture in the event of a will contest even one brought in good faith, the new legislation voids those provisions if the contest was brought in good faith.

Let’s Work Together


There are new cases all the time that clarify or change the law on inheritance disputes. Keep up-to-date by subscribing to our blog.



Recent Posts

Who Can Contest a Texas Probate?

Who Can Contest a Texas Probate Background In order to contest a Texas probate, you have to have standing. Standing means a person has a right to bring a lawsuit in Texas. To have standing in a Texas probate proceeding, you have to be an interested party. Facts In a...

Signing a Will in All the Wrong Places

Where do you sign a Texas will? In a recent case, 01-20-00073-CV, a Texas will was offered for probate. The trial court did not admit the will to probate because the testator just initialed six pages and did not sign on the seventh page where the document had a space...

Presumption of Undue Influence

Presumption of Undue Influence A person who is an Executor, Administrator, Trustee, or who has a Power of Attorney is a fiduciary. A fiduciary must act in the best interest of the beneficiaries and show that each of his actions was in the beneficiaries' best interest....

The Author

Robert Ray

Robert Ray handles inheritance disputes of all kinds. He takes cases throughout Texas.
© Copyright 2024 | All Rights Reserved.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This