Monday, July 20, 2009

Beat it, Just Beat it

According to legal documents filed by Katherine Jackson's attorneys, Michael Jackson's trust included a "no-contest clause." If a beneficiary attempts to challenge the terms of the trust terms in court, the challenger can be disinherited.

Apparently Katherine Jackson has not completely given up on administering Jackson's estate, so she is stepping lightly and asking the court to determine if an objection to the appointment of trust-stipulated trustees John McClain and John Branca would constitute a violation of the no-contest clause. A hearing is scheduled to take place Aug. 3.

In Utah, a no-contest clause is a sure sign of a boilerplate document. Here, no-contest clauses are simply unenforceable if probable cause exists for instituting a contest. (Utah Code sections 75-2-515, 75-3-905, and 75-7-112.) It is often quite easy for a beneficiary to establish some probable cause for contesting a will or trust. That is not to say that the contest will succeed; such contests in fact often fail. But it is difficult to disinherit a beneficiary for bringing the contest. If a person has a concern about preventing contests, we at Hughes Estate Group have foolproof measures to prevent such contests. Cheap "no-contest" clauses are not the solution.

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