I spoke with a dog owner yesterday about some estate planning for her Boxer named Molly.
Molly’s owner, Mandy, told me that her only relative is a brother that she has not spoken with for years, and she is sure that no matter how she provides for Molly in her will, that the brother will contest the matter in the courts and try to take the money set aside for Molly.
We discussed the option of establishing a trust for Molly, but Mandy was not interested in that avenue.
I then suggested that the will could include an "in terrorem" clause.
“My brother may be a bad person, but he is certainly no terrorist,” exclaimed Mandy.
I smiled and explained that an "in terrorem” clause provides that if a person unsuccessfully challenges a provision in a will, then the challenger cannot receive any property under any other provision of the will.
So, if a court finds that Mandy’s will is otherwise valid, the clause providing monies for the care of Molly will be upheld, despite the protests of her brother.
Mandy’s desire to take care of her dog will be fulfilled.