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When should you consider contesting a will in Texas?

On Behalf of | May 4, 2024 | Probate Administration |

When a loved one passes away, they often leave a will that outlines how to distribute their assets. Sometimes, however, you may find reasons to contest the will, especially if you believe it does not accurately reflect the deceased’s intentions or was created under dubious circumstances.

Understanding the specific grounds to contest a will can help you determine whether to take legal action.

Valid reasons for contesting a will

There are several reasons someone may contest a will in Texas.

  • Lack of testamentary capacity: This means that the person who made the will did not fully understand the nature of the assets, the effect of signing a will or the identity of the people who would naturally benefit from their estate. Typically, this issue arises with individuals suffering from severe mental health issues or dementia at the time they signed the will.
  • Undue influence: This occurs when someone manipulates the person creating the will to gain more than they would under normal circumstances. The influence must amount to coercion, where the testator loses free will. An example would include a new friend or caregiver who pressures them to modify their will.
  • Improper execution: Texas law requires specific formalities for a will to be valid. For example, the testator must sign the will in front of two witnesses, who also need to sign. Failure to meet these requirements can invalidate the will.
  • Fraud or forgery: Contesting a will based on fraud involves proving that the testator was misled about the contents of the document when they signed it, believing it to be something other than a will. Forgery typically involves someone faking the testator’s signature or altering the will without permission.

In addition, you might contest the will if the person revoked it prior to death or if it goes through probate in the wrong county or state.

What to do if you decide to contest a will

If you believe you have grounds to contest a will, you may wish to consult with an attorney They can help you understand the validity of your claims and the likelihood of success. You should also file a contest before the will goes through the probate process. After probate, contesting a will becomes much more challenging.

Contesting a will can lead to a court battle that may last months or even years. You should prepare both emotionally and financially for this process.

Contesting a will is a serious decision that can affect family relationships and financial situations. It requires careful consideration. If you decide to proceed, ensure you have a strong case and the necessary support to manage the challenges of this legal process.