A Humerous Twist On An Interrorem Clause (With A Not So Humerous Downside)
The interrorem clause --also known as the "no contest" clause --is not favored in many states. It is not enforceable everywhere. But in New York, it is an often- utilized poison pill used to discourage disgruntled relatives from challenging grandpa's Will.
Since there is humor everywhere, even occasionally in death, it should be no surprise that some legal bards have tried to inject a bit of doggerel into the documents they draft. One such example is this interrorem clause which Glenn Witecki Esq. of Syracuse stumbled across a no-contest clause which he was good enough to post on the trusts and estates listserve maintained by the state bar association:
"Don’t challenge my Will that states my intent
In clear lucid language I said what I meant
And if you Object to bequests I have made
I will haunt you and hound you from inside my grave
So if you decide to Contest or impede
Or somehow express your distress and your greed
Then prepare yourself soundly to suffer defeat
All you’ll get from my Will is a trick with no treat"
Another attorney on the listserve, Paul Forster of Staten Island immediately noted that the word "intent" is "precatory" in nature and might therefore be seen as a mere "wish" word which states a preference but is not a flat-out directive. He quite clearly points out that the use of a precatory word might well make the clause unenforceable and thereby deny the testator the benefit of having his or her Will carried out in the way it was intended (there's that word again!) to be done.
Given that many judges aren't fond of interrorem clauses and may try to disallow them where at all possible, it is good to keep in mind that humor has its place -- which is probably not in a last Will and Testament.