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“No-Contest” Clause in Trust Works Both Ways

No-contest clause in Arizona

After two of the beneficiaries of Ralph Credille’s trust challenged the actions of their brother, the trustee, he argued that they had violated the trust’s no-contest provision. Then he moved to modify the trust. Oops. That made him the no-contest violator.

Contestants Seek Declaratory Judgment on No-Contest Clause

Declaratory judgment

It is hardly uncommon for family members to disagree about the validity or meaning of a will. Even when they disagree, though, few people actually go to the trouble and expense to file a formal contest. A recent will contest case in Georgia provided a different wrinkle that invites further explanation: the will contests filed […]

Challenge to Will Leads to Further Problems for Stepson

OCTOBER 24, 2016 VOLUME 23 NUMBER 40 We often tell clients that they should think twice (or perhaps thrice) before challenging a will. It is difficult to prevail in a will contest, but there are also other problems. The will in question might have a provision that completely disinherits anyone challenging their reduced share. There […]

The Difference Between an Heir and a Beneficiary

heir and beneficiary

APRIL 18, 2016 VOLUME 23 NUMBER 15 Your estate is simple, your family relationships clear, your intentions easy to understand. Why can’t you just write your own will, and save the legal fees? Because of Esther Hill, that’s why. Actually, that’s not her real name — we change the names of most of the people […]

“No-Contest” Clause in Trust Can Be As Effective As Will Provision

JANUARY 19, 2015 VOLUME 22 NUMBER 3 When we prepare wills and/or trusts for our clients, they often ask if they should include a “no-contest” provision. Typically, they want us to add language that would penalize anyone who challenges the validity of their estate planning documents. Are such provisions effective, or even permitted? We explain […]

“In Terrorem” Provision Does Not Violate Public Policy

OCTOBER 1, 2012 VOLUME 19 NUMBER 36 From time to time we have written about what lawyers usually call “in terrorem” provisions in wills and trusts. They are perhaps better known as “no-contest” clauses, and they are intended to prevent will (or trust) contests after the death of the signer. Typically, they say something like: […]

Should There Be An In Terrorem Clause in Your Will or Trust?

In terrorem provision

AUGUST 3, 2009  VOLUME 16, NUMBER 49 You would like to make sure that your children get along after you are no longer around to tell them to behave, wouldn’t you? Although you may not anticipate any disagreements, you know that money can change relationships, and you have seen how the death of a parent […]

Will Prepared By Bookkeeper Valid–Contestants Disinherited

SEPTEMBER 20, 1999 VOLUME 7, NUMBER 12 Six days before he died, Arizonan Ralph Shumway signed a new will. Rather than consult a lawyer to prepare the will, Mr. Shumway had relied on his bookkeeper, Adelida Vega Rodriguez, to prepare the document for him. Because the will she prepared left one fourth of Mr. Shumway’s […]

Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.