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[Latin, In fright or terror; by way of a threat.] A description of a legacy or gift given by will with the condition that the donee must not challenge the validity of the will or other testament.
Conditions of such nature, labeled in terrorem clauses, are ordinarily regarded as threats, since the potential loss of the gift is thought to provoke fear or dread of litigation over the will in the recipient.
in terroremadjective alarmed, apprehensive, filled with anxiety, fraught with apprehension, frightened, horrified, in a state of anxiety, in fear, mortified, scared, timorous, uneasy, with an appreeension of danger, with an apprehension of harm, with an apprehension of injury, with an apprehension of punishhent, with consternation, with fright, with panic, with timidity, with trepidation
Associated concepts: in terrorem clauses, in terrorem letters
in terrorem‘by terror’. See PENALTY CLAUSES.
IN TERROREM. By way of threat, terror, or warning. For example, when a legacy is given to a person upon condition not to dispute the validity or the dispositions in wills and testaments, the conditions are not in general obligatory, but only in terrorem; if, therefore, there exist probabilis causa litigandi, the non-observance of the conditions will not be a forfeiture. 2 Vern. 90; 1 Hill. Ab. 253; 3 P. Wms. 344; 1 Atk. 404. But when the acquiescence of the legatee appears to be a material ingredient in the gift, the bequest is only quousque the legatee shall refrain from disturbing the will. 2 P. Wms. 52; 2 Ventr. 352. For cases of legacies given to a wife while she shall continue unmarried, see 1 Madd. R. 590; 1 Rop. Leg. 558.