How to Contest a Will in Texas

How to Contest a Will in Texas

Posted By Calloway, Norris, Burdette & Weber, PLLC || 13-Apr-2015

The details of a will can have resounding and lasting effects on those involved, or excluded. Inheriting fortunes or property could build substantially better chances for loved ones while being given no assets may cripple someone who was expecting some sort of benefit from the will. If you feel that a will has not been properly drafted or that it assigns portions of property unfairly, you may have grounds to contest it.

What are common reasons to contest a will?

If you want to contest a will, it is important to first understand some of the most common and viable reasons to do so, such as:

  • Signed improperly: Careful review of a will or testament with an experienced probate lawyer could reveal technical mistakes in the creation of the document, such as missing signatures. This is a fairly direct way to contest a will as it may suggest other problems were at hand as well.
  • Capacity of choice: Should the creator of the will be elderly or ill, you may argue that they did not have the proper capacity to make the decisions outlined in the will. For example, if a will is created by an elder suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, the validity of its statements could come into question.
  • Undue influence: Outside pressure or intimidation from an interested party may have influenced the will’s creator illegally, prompting some sort of favoritism for the oppressor. It can be difficult to contest a will on these grounds without legal counsel, however, as it will necessitate evidence.
  • Fraud: A will may simply be fraudulent, created and signed by a party that is expressly not the testator. Having the true testator sign a document without knowing it was a will and testament is another form of fraudulent procurement.

How do I contest a will?

If you have considered the numerous reasons for contesting a will and believe you have grounds to do so, there are a few extra details you need to be aware of:

  • Interested party: You cannot contest just any will. You must be an “interested party,” which is to say you must be in the current will, a previous will, or have rational reasons as to why you should be in the current will. For example, if you are a close cousin of the testator but are not mentioned once in the distribution of a vast estate, you may have reason to contest it.
  • No contest clause: Some wills may be drafted with a “no contest clause,” which usually says that anyone named in a will that contests it shall be removed from the will entirely. This is often added to discourage anyone from contesting the will. Not only may this be grounds for reasonable suspicion, it is often not upheld in court when disputed by an experienced probate attorney.

Should all circumstances seem to be appropriate, you will have to ensure you haven’t exceeded a statute of limitations for disputing a will, which will vary greatly on circumstances. If not, you are free to draft a will contest form to submit to the probate court. When accepted, a trial date will be decided and all relevant parties will be notified accordingly. All there is left to do is prepare for the trial.

Who can help me prepare to contest a will?

At Calloway Norris Burdette Weber & Baxter-Thompson, PLLC, we believe that everyone should be entitled to what they deserve, and our combined experience with estate and probate law amounts to decades. If you want board certified experts in your corner and the best chances to win your will contest, you need our legal counsel today. Our Dallas office is just a phone call away.

Don’t hesitate another moment. Contact us for a free case evaluation.