Effective estate planning includes foundational documents like wills and trusts. There are many benefits that these documents can provide, including naming an executor or trustee to manage your affairs, determining how your estate will be distributed, and avoiding probate court with a trust. However, these benefits are lost if a will or trust is successfully contested and declared invalid. An Oklahoma City estate planning attorney can help you defend your will or trust against contests.

An attorney can help you determine who is likely to contest your will and how you can prevent them from contesting it. An attorney can also help you create a stronger estate plan, limiting the chances of any contest succeeding. This includes ensuring that the will or trust follows state laws. One option to limit the chances of a claim against a will or trust is a no-contest clause.

In some cases, an interested party makes a claim against your will or trust in good faith, believing that you were influenced or defrauded. Unfortunately, parties will sometimes be upset with the inheritance they received and make a claim out of spite or greed. If you are worried about this occurring, your estate plan needs to be strong.

What Is a No-Contest Clause?

A no-contest clause, despite its name, does not prevent a contest against a trust or will. Instead, it states that individuals who contest the will and are unsuccessful will lose a portion or all of their interest in the will or trust. This means that the clause is most effective at preventing those already named as heirs or beneficiaries in your will or trust from contesting it. This is especially true if the contest would not be in good faith or would be unlikely to succeed.

Unfortunately, a no-contest clause is not effective for those who are not named as heirs or beneficiaries. As long as they have the standing and the grounds to contest the will or trust, they will be able to and have nothing to lose. If you fully disinherit an heir or beneficiary, they are more likely to contest the will or trust.

If you are concerned about specific heirs, beneficiaries, or interested parties contesting your will or trust, it is crucial that you discuss these concerns with a skilled estate planning attorney. They can determine how to protect your will against contests through options like a no-contest clause and ensuring the document is legally valid.

What Happens When a Will or Trust Is Successfully Contested?

If a will or trust is successfully contested, then the current will or trust is declared invalid. If there is a prior, valid version of the will or trust, the provisions of that document will be used. If there is no prior and valid version, then the estate will follow Oklahoma’s intestate succession laws. This may mean your surviving spouse or surviving children inherit everything, or your spouse inherits half the intestate property, and your descendants receive the rest.

What Are the Grounds for a Valid Will Contest?

The grounds for a valid will contest in Oklahoma are:

  1. A new will has been discovered that revokes or changes the will that was entered into probate
  2. A jurisdictional fact was missing during probate
  3. The creator of the will, or the testator, did not have the mental capacity to create the will
  4. The testator created the will under duress, menace, or undue influence
  5. The testator created the will while being defrauded in some way
  6. The will was not executed and attested properly

The party who files to contest a will or a trust has the burden of proof to show the probate court that their claims are true.


Q: What Is the No-Contest Clause in a Trust in Oklahoma?

A: A no-contest clause in a trust in Oklahoma means that if a named beneficiary contests the trust unsuccessfully, they will lose part or all of their inheritance. This can limit the chances of beneficiaries contesting a trust for bad faith reasons.

However, a no-contest clause does not remove the risk of contests. Non-beneficiaries do not have the same to lose and may still contest if they have the standing and grounds. If a party makes a successful contest, the trust is overturned, and the no-contest clause will not apply.

Q: Can a Trust Be Contested in Oklahoma?

A: Yes, a trust can be contested in Oklahoma, but only if the person filing to contest has the legal standing and valid grounds. The individuals with the legal standing to contest a trust are the beneficiaries of the trust, the heirs of the creator of the trust, and the successor trustee. Grounds for a valid trust contest include fraud, lack of testamentary capacity, forgery, undue influence, and improperly signed or created trusts. An attorney can help you determine if you have the ability to contest a trust.

Q: How Long Do You Have to Contest a Will in Oklahoma?

A: In Oklahoma, you have three months to contest a will. This countdown begins when the will is entered into probate court or is denied probate court entry. The person filing must have the legal standing to contest and evidence of a valid ground for contesting. When you file a claim contesting the validity of the will, this lengthens the probate process considerably, meaning all heirs will be unable to access their inheritance until the claim is resolved.

Q: Who Can Contest a Will in Oklahoma?

A: In Oklahoma, only interested parties can contest a will, meaning they have an interest in the estate. This may include:

  1. Heirs to the estate under intestate law
  2. Heirs named in the will
  3. Heirs named in a prior version of the will
  4. Creditors, if the estate still owes the creditor debt
  5. Those with fiduciary interest in the estate, such as the executor

These individuals cannot contest just because they dislike the terms of the will. There must also be a valid cause for contesting its legitimacy.

Protecting Your Will and Trust With Strong Estate Planning

An attorney can help you address your will or trust concerns and take the steps necessary to limit the success of claims of undue influence or lack of capacity. It’s important to find an attorney with the experience and skills needed. Contact the attorneys at Stange Law Firm today to see how we can help you update or draft your comprehensive estate plan.