Is a clause in a Will that prohibits contest of a Will valid in Arizona?

Full Question:

If it is written in a will that any person contesting the will shall recieve only $1.00 by the principle of the will;; is that legal and can it be upheld in a court of law even though the contestation is due by an act a of the trustor ? Can it be upheld for any contest of the will ?
03/02/2017   |   Category: Wills and Es... ยป Will Contests   |   State: Arizona   |   #33175

Answer:

The law in Arizona says this is invalid. However, where there is a nominal gift if someone contests a Will that could be enforced under certain circumstances.  In other words, they could only get the 1.00.  For this to happen, the Court must find that there was no probable cause for the contest.  Two Court opinions have addressed the issue in Arizona.

This court held that a nominal gift was enforceable because there was no probable cause for the contest. (But it was vacated later.  see below.)

197 Ariz. 57 (Ariz.App. Div. 1 1999)
3 P.3d 977
In the Matter of the ESTATE OF Ralph Vincill SHUMWAY, Deceased. Adelida Vega Rodriguez, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
Virginia Gavette, Personal Representative-Appellant.
No. 1 CA-CV 98-0431.
Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department C.
Sept. 7, 1999.


This is an appeal from the case above where the Arizona Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals Court and held the contest was made with probable cause and the nominal gift was not enforced.
 
9 P.3d 1062 (Ariz. 2000)
198 Ariz. 323
In the Matter of the ESTATE OF Ralph Vincill SHUMWAY, Deceased.
Adelida Vega Rodriguez, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
Virginia Gavette, Personal Representative-Appellant.
No. CV-99-0391-PR.
Supreme Court of Arizona.
Sept. 15, 2000.


This is  the relevant statute.

Title 14 - Trusts, Estates and Protective Proceedings

14-2517. Penalty clause for contest; restriction
 
A provision in a will purporting to penalize an interested person for contesting the will or instituting other proceedings relating to the estate is unenforceable if probable cause exists for that action.