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.
When you’re preparing a will or trust for someone for whom capacity might later be raised as an issue, you have a potentially powerful tool that can help avoid later disputes: video. There’s nothing like a judge seeing a competent person discussing the disposition of his or her estate to knock the wind out of claims of incapacity.