Typically, an adult can make their own will in which they may name the people who would receive their property after their demise. However, under certain circumstances, the will-making process may not take place properly. In that case, individuals of legal standing may challenge the said will.
There are reasons besides the will’s validity that can result in interested persons stepping forward and contesting it.In this article, we discuss the details related to the process of contesting a will, such as who can do it, how long they have, and on what grounds to make it happen.
Individuals who can contest wills in Texas
As your Will Contests Lawyer will tell you, Texas law allows interested persons to contest a will. But what does that word mean here? Simply put, if the deceased name you as an heir or devise, you’re their spouse or a creditor, and you’ll fall in that category.
In short, anyone who has a right or claim on the deceased’s property or how the estate will be administered can challenge the will.
But since you’ll be bringing the case against the will, the burden to proveyou fit the role of an interested person falls on you.
How long does the interested have to contest a will in Texas?
The Texas law allows interested persons to challenge a will for about two years once it enters probate.Even so, many heirs/beneficiaries also contest wills before they have been admitted to probate. So, why would someone wait for a will to be in probate before challenging it? Because their attorney will have more time to get to know the case in detail before they file a contest petition.
Experts, however, consider it better not to wait for probate. That’s because it gives you, the contestant, additional leverage if you can challenge it before the appointment of an executor. In any case, it’s best to not wait too long because the will can enter probate within days of the testator’s death. Usually, your lawyer will have 2-3 weeks after the will’s application to set up a powerful contest on your behalf.
Grounds for challenging a will in Texas
Depending on the basis of your claim, you may contest a will for these reasons:
In this first instance, beneficiaries under a will have an objection to the individual that the Probate Court appoints as the estate executor or administrator. For instance, they don’t believe the latter is qualified enough. Or, they think the proposed executor’s prior felony conviction should disqualify them.
Regardless of the reason, the basis of the challenge isn’t the will’s validity but the person in charge of discharging them.
Provisions of a will
For the second type of contest, you lodge a claim against the validity of the provisions of the will. Your reasons for doing that can be any one of the following:
- Will revocation: That means you have a more recent decree of the deceased in your possession. Hence, you consider the will in probate as revoked in favor of a later will.
- Proper capacity lacking: In this case, you’re objecting because you allege that the decedent didn’t have the proper capacity for will creation. Since this property is one of the things that makes a will valid, you have the ground for contestation.
- Undue influence:In other cases, alleging that someone’s undue influence affected the decedent’s execution of the will is the main reason for the challenge.In simple words, you are saying that the deceased didn’t do so under their free will. So, if you can prove that the conditions in the will aren’t according to the decedent’s wishes, the court won’t consider it valid.
- Fraud: Finally,if anyone else other than the testator creates the will or signs it, the document becomes fraudulent. Likewise, if the true testator signs a document unknowingly, then the court will still consider the resulting will a fraudulent procurement.
No contest clause
Yet another important thing about contesting a will is something called a no contest clause.If a will has this, it means the court will remove you from it entirely should you contest it. Will-makers usually do this to discourage their beneficiaries from challenging the will after their demise.
To sum up, firstly, you’ll – or better, your lawyer will – need to check if the circumstances seem to be appropriate for challenging a will. Thenassure that you are still within the statute of limitations to dispute the will in question. Remember, the duration can vary with circumstances, so be very certain. After confirming these things, you can draft a will contest form and submit to the probate court. If the said court accepts it, they will give you a trial date. All those with a stake in the will get a notice about the trial’s date. Finally, get to preparing your case for when you have your day in the court!
Andrea Bell is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on Twitter:@IM_AndreaBell.