Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article, “'No contest’ clause not grounds to dismiss beneficiary’s challenge to trust,” quotes Joseph L. Bierwirth, Jr.

January 24, 2018

An “in terrorem” clause in a family trust document did not automatically bar a beneficiary from suing her brother, the trustee, for alleged undue influence over their late mother, who had established the trust, a Superior Court judge has ruled.

An in terrorem clause — also called a no-contest clause — is a provision in an estate document that disinherits anyone who challenges its terms.

Boston attorney Joseph L. Bierwirth Jr. said that because the trust in question could ultimately be voided by the court due to undue influence, it stands to reason that the matter should not be dismissed based on lack of standing.

“Otherwise, an undue influencer could insulate a trust or will from challenge simply by ensuring an in terrorem provision is included in the instrument,” he said.

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