To contest a will means you object to the validity of the will.
There are several qualifications in place before an individual can contest a will in Texas, and the individual has two years to file the petition.
1. Be an interested person
Only a person with a claim or legal right to the estate can contest a will. Interested persons include heirs, spouses and devisees. Heirs are those with blood, marriage or adoption relations to the deceased. Devisees are the individuals named in the will, allowing for distant relatives or those unrelated to the deceased to file a contest.
2. Have legal grounds
Dissatisfaction with your portions of the inheritance is not a legal ground for contesting a will. Your objection required a valid theory accepted in court. These include:
- Last of testamentary capacity
- Revocation by testator
- Failure to properly execute
- Undue influence
Within each of these situations, reasonable belief must exist that the will is invalid either on account of the knowledge or actions of the deceased or the individual executing the will.
3. File with the right court
It is important to file a petition to contest a will in the right probate court. This involves providing the valid theory behind the challenge and meeting the requirement as an interested person. From this point, a hearing takes place to look at the evidence, talk to witnesses or question experts.
While you may not agree with what the will dictates, there is a big difference between frustration with the contents and a legal concern over legitimacy. Know the allowable reasons for contesting a will and the timeline for filing the petition.