Challenging a will is a process overseen by the Texas Estates Code. There are detailed laws and procedures to follow and time is often of the essence. It is highly advisable to have experienced probate counsel on your side if you plan to undergo a will contest.
A will can only be contested by an “interested party”, meaning someone who has a valid reason to challenge the terms, such as an heir, spouse, beneficiary of a current or previous will, or someone who is owed money by the decedent. Then, an interested party must determine whether they have legal grounds to contest the will’s validity.
Common reasons that wills are contested include the exclusion of potential heirs, the validity and enforceability of the document is in question, or if there is a question of the decedent’s mental capacity at the time the will was executed. Will contests can become more heated and complicated when there are adjoining issues of guardianship.
In every scenario, there are legal and procedural standings and findings to be managed. A knowledgeable advocate who is experienced in the complexities of probate court is the right person to have on your side.
The emotional issues that come with death and grieving make contesting a will a difficult process. Rely on the skill and compassionate guidance of Albin Roach’s own Jeffrey Yates, who has extensive experience in issues of will contests, probate issues and estate planning.
Our Frisco and Plano Probate Litigation Attorneys Resolve Estate Challenges
Disputes arise during the probate process when beneficiaries challenge the validity of last will and testament provisions or the entire document. These disputes delay distribution of assets and can make the devastating impact of losing a loved one worse.
Albin Roach is a Plano-based estate law firm that represents beneficiaries throughout North Texas. Our team of probate litigation attorneys truly listens to you to discover a solution that is right for you and your family. Our attorneys recommend consulting us at the early stages of a dispute. We are often able to swiftly resolve your problem, and thereby spare you time, expense and family upheaval. In addition, Texas imposes a statute of limitations on bringing beneficiary claims in court — missing that deadline means waiving your right to challenge an invalid will.
We recognize how distressing an estate dispute can be. You recently lost your loved one or, in the case of a charity or alma mater, a person who believed in and supported your organization’s cause. Now you are entangled in a messy dispute. The situation may even drive a wedge between you and other family members and friends of your loved one.
Our Frisco and Plano probate litigation attorneys pursue equitable settlement when possible. Avoiding a contentious, lengthy trial reduces costs, speeds up final resolution and minimizes tensions. We take mindful steps to ease the stress on you and preserve relationships with the other beneficiaries, if doing so is important to you.
Standing to Contest a Will
Standing refers to the legal right to pursue resolution in the probate or civil courts. Only interested parties have standing to challenge a will. Interested parties include heirs, devisees, spouses, creditors, guardians or parents acting on behalf of a minor and anybody else who has property rights in or claims against the estate, according to the Texas Estates Code.
Grounds to Contest a Will
Grounds describe the legal reasons for seeking relief from the courts. Texas courts do not allow you to challenge a will because you believe it is unfair or not what you were promised. The law establishes specific grounds upon which you can bring a cause of action. Some of these grounds include:
- Testator’s mental state — The testator must have had testamentary capacity to create the will. Often the phrase “of sound mind” is used to describe the testator’s mental state.
- Undue influence — Undue influence occurs when a person of trust — such as a family member or caretaker — pressures, manipulates or coaxes a vulnerable testator to abide by the influencer’s wishes.
- Fraud — Procuring a will by trickery is fraudulent, as is forging the testator’s signature on the will.
- Insufficiency — In some cases, a problem with the document itself renders the will invalid — for example, too few witnesses or minor age of the testator. This usually only occurs if the testator did not consult with qualified legal counsel.
- Codicil or superseding will exists — The testator may have amended her or his will or drafted an entirely new document that overrides previous terms of property allocation.
Consult with Our Plano Probate Litigation Attorney about Resolving Your Beneficiary Disputes
Albin Roach develops comprehensive, effective solutions to your beneficiary disputes. You can schedule an appointment with our Plano probate litigation attorney by calling our firm at 214-423-5100 or contacting us online.