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No-Contest Clauses in Trusts and Wills in Kansas

Weber Law Sept. 28, 2019

Twenty years ago, former Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen made an estate plan that placed the organization into a trust in the hope that one of his children would eventually take over ownership of the team. When he revised his estate plan in 2009, Bowlen gave the trustees power and authority to select the team’s next controlling owner. The trustees have been managing the Broncos since 2014 when Bowlen stepped down from leading the team due to advancing Alzheimer’s disease. As the trustees have started to go through the process of selecting the next owner for the team, not all of Bowlen’s children have agreed with the decisions they have made.

Two of Pat Bowlen’s daughters have filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the 2009 update that Bowlen made to his trust. However, they filed the lawsuit at substantial risk because Pat Bowlen’s trust contains a “no contest” clause. If the court validates the trust and finds that in filing their lawsuit the daughters violated the “no contest” provision contained in that trust, the inheritance rights of those two daughters under that trust will bypass them and go to their children.

“No contest” provisions are one of the many types of provisions that an individual can write into a trust or a will. The purpose of a “no contest” provision is to deter will or trust contests by beneficiaries by destroying the beneficiary rights of any party who contests the validity of the trust. “No Contest” provisions are valid under Kansas law, and, although they may seem like harsh language to include in your estate plan, they can protect the integrity of your estate plan and ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Some people may feel as though a “no contest” clause is unnecessary because they do not think that any of their heirs or beneficiaries would ever contest their will or their trust. That may well be the case, but keep in mind that contesting a will or a trust is a choice. If no one ever disputes the will or trust, no one will experience the severe consequence of losing their beneficiary status. Conversely, if someone does contest your trust or your will, the beneficiaries will be unable to access the contents of the trust or estate until that dispute is cleared up, which can take years. What’s more, the cost of litigation to resolve the dispute may reduce the amount of available funds or assets in your estate or trust. “No contest” provisions can prevent delays in getting the contents of your trust or will into the hands of those whom you wish to have them, as well as preserve the value of the assets that are in your trust or will.

If you need information about estate planning, Wichita attorney J. Joseph Weber is here to serve you. Please call our office or contact us online to arrange a consultation to discuss your Kansas estate planning questions.