An in terrorem clause is a provision in a will or trust that a beneficiary who contests the validity of the will or trust forfeits his or her inheritance. Although in terrorem clauses are generally considered valid in Connecticut, they have been disfavored by some courts and may not be enforced where, for example, there is evidence that the testator or grantor did not fully understand the ramifications of the clause. Other courts have declined to enforce in terrorem clauses against beneficiaries who had a reasonable and good faith basis for challenging the validity of the will or trust.
In Stewart v. Ciccaglione, 2015 Conn. Super. Lexis 413 (Conn. Super. Ct. Feb. 26, 2015), the court refused to enforce the in terrorem clause at issue because the court found that there was a reasonable and good faith basis for challenging the validity of the trust. The court further held that the in terrorem clause was void because the evidence established that the decedent did not have full knowledge, understanding and comprehension of the clause.