In Terrorem Clause Law and Legal Definition
In terrorem is derived from Latin which means "in fear." It is a provision in a will which threatens that if anyone challenges the legality of the will or any part of it, then that person will be cut off or given only a dollar, instead of getting the full gift provided in the will. The clause is intended to discourage beneficiaries from causing a legal battle after the death of the testator. However, if the will is challenged and found to be invalid (due to lack of mental capacity, undue influence or failure to have it properly executed), then such a clause also fails. Therefore, a prospective challenger takes his or her chances. The courts have ruled that merely putting in a claim for moneys due from the estate is not a legal challenge to the will itself and is permissible without losing the gift.