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In terrorem

The phrase “in terrorem” comes from Latin and means “in fear” or “by way of threat” in English. It is often used in legal contexts to refer to a clause or provision in a will or contract that aims to intimidate someone into complying with the terms of the document.

For example, a will may include a provision that states if a beneficiary contests the will or files a legal action to challenge it, they will lose their inheritance. This clause is included “in terrorem” to discourage beneficiaries from challenging the will in court.

The purpose of “in terrorem” clauses is to discourage legal disputes and ensure that the wishes of the person who created the will or contract are carried out without the threat of litigation. However, the enforceability of these clauses can vary by jurisdiction, and courts may not always uphold them if they are found to be excessively punitive or against public policy.

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