Monday, July 1, 2013
An in terrorem clause is a provisions in a will that result in a forfeiture if the will is contested. These types of provisions are narrowly construed. Recently, the Georgia Supreme Court was faced with answering the question if the phrase "entire interest" in an in terrorem provision includes bequests given in a residual clause. Charles Norton left his property to his daughters Lisa and Beth. Both girls were claiming that their father was unduly influenced when the will was drafted. The unsuccessful claim resulted in the in terrorem clause to be enacted and the share that each daughter was left to be forfeited. The girls brought an action claiming that even though the in terrorem provision was enacted it did not affect the ability for the girls to inherit from the residuary clause in the will.
In Norton v. Norton, the Georgia Supreme Court held that the phrase " entire interest" could not be more narrowly construed. The court reasoned that the language in the In Terrorem provision was clear and indicated that any claim against the will would result in forfeiture.
See Luke Lantta, Georgia Supreme Court Construes Scope Of In Terrorem Clause, Bryan Cave Fiduciary Litigation, Jun. 25, 2013.