An in terrorem clause is a clause in a will which asserts that if a devisee challenges the will, the devisee will not receive her devise. In effect, the in terrorem clause creates a conditional devise, given only if the will is not challenged. Often the purpose of the in terrorem clause is to stop any potential contestants of the will by offering them payment in the form of a devise. In many states this type of clause is not enforceable if there is probable cause to challenge the will.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
(in te-ror-em) Latin meaning "in fear." This phrase is used to describe provisions in contracts or wills meant to scare a person into complying with the terms of the agreement. For example, a will might state that an heir will forfeit an inheritance if the heir challenges the validity of the will. Of course, if the will is challenged and found to be invalid, then the clause itself is also invalid, and the heir takes whatever he or she would have inherited if there were no will. Also called a terrorem clause or a no-contest clause.
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:17 pm