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Could someone invalidate your estate plan in Texas?

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Estate planning is a smart way to ensure the distribution of your assets according to your wishes after you pass away. However, in Texas, there are circumstances under which someone might attempt to challenge or invalidate your estate plan.

Understanding these scenarios can help you take precautions to protect your final wishes.

Lack of testamentary capacity

One way someone could invalidate your estate plan in Texas is by arguing that you lacked testamentary capacity when you created the plan. Testamentary capacity refers to your mental ability to understand the nature and extent of your property, the natural objects of your bounty (such as your family members) and the distribution you are making through your estate plan.

Undue influence

Another challenge to your estate plan could arise if someone claims that another person unduly influenced you when you created the plan. This could occur if someone exerted pressure on you to change your estate plan to benefit them unfairly. To invalidate your plan on this basis, the challenger would need to provide evidence that the influencer had a significant impact on your decisions regarding your estate.

Fraud or forgery

Your estate plan could face invalidation if someone proves that you or another person created it under fraudulent circumstances or it contains forged signatures. For example, if someone altered the terms of your will without your knowledge or forged your signature on important documents, a court could deem your estate plan invalid.

Failure to comply with legal formalities

In Texas, estate planning documents must follow specific legal formalities to be valid. For instance, the testator (the person making the will) must sign a will, and at least two credible witnesses must witness the signing. If your estate plan fails to meet these formal requirements, it could be subject to challenge and potentially invalidated.

One way to protect your estate plan from potential challenges is to write a letter of instruction and suggestion. It serves as a roadmap and can include passwords to various accounts. Another way is to communicate openly with your loved ones. Doing this can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes.

By understanding the potential challenges to your estate plan and taking proactive measures to address them, you can help carry out your final wishes as intended in Texas.