FAQs About Will Contests
April 4, 2023
A will is a crucial instrument in protecting your assets and loved ones. In my experience, most folks do not experience issues when a will is done correctly. Many wills pass through probate with no problems. However, some individuals may be compelled to challenge a will when they believe it was created under unfair or fraudulent circumstances.
My mission, as a will contest attorney, is to help my clients in Corpus Christi, Texas, and throughout the Coastal Bend area understand their rights and options when contesting a will. My firm, Russell Manning Attorney at Law, also represents those in Bee, Kleberg, Nueces, Live Oak, Jim Wells, Aransas, and Victoria counties who need help exercising their right to contest a will.
FAQs About Will Contests
The following are common questions my clients have regarding contesting a will:
Who Can Contest a Will in Texas?
In Texas, several parties can contest a will:
Heirs who would inherit from the deceased person if there were no will
Creditors if they believe that they have not been paid debts owed to them by the deceased person
Executors and administrators if they believe that the will is invalid or if they believe their actions are being unfairly challenged
Any other person with a financial or personal interest in the estate
Is There a Time Limit for Contesting a Will?
In most U.S. states, including Texas, the time limit for contesting a will is two years from the date the will is admitted to probate. This condition means that if a person wants to challenge the validity of a will, they must file a lawsuit within two years of the date that the court accepts the will for probate.
On What Grounds Can I Contest a Will?
There are several grounds on which you can contest a will, including:
Lack of capacity. A person must have a testamentary capacity to make a valid will. This means they must be of sound mind, understand the nature and extent of their property, and understand the consequences of making a will.
Undue influence. Undue influence can occur when someone exerts pressure or coercion on the testator to make a will that is not truly their own wishes.
Fraud. Fraud occurs when someone intentionally deceives the testator to obtain a benefit under the will.
Mistake. If you believe that the will contains a mistake, such as a typographical error or an incorrect description of the property, you may be able to contest the will.
Improper execution. A will must be executed in accordance with state law to be valid. For example, if the testator or witnesses did not sign the will as required by law, you may be able to contest the will.
What Is Considered “Undue Influence?”
Undue influence is a situation where a person uses their position of power or authority to exert pressure or influence over another person to make a decision, such as creating or changing a will, that is not truly their own free and voluntary choice. This situation includes isolation, coercion, flattery, manipulation, and exploitation of the testator by a third party.
What Is the Process for Contesting a Will?
The process for contesting a will in Texas generally involves the following steps:
Determine whether there is legal standing to contest the will.
Gather evidence to support the contest.
File a lawsuit to contest the will.
Serve notice to all interested parties.
Attend a hearing to present and argue the case.
Appeal the decision when a party does not agree.
What Will Happen If the Will Is Determined to Be Invalid?
If a will is determined to be invalid, the distribution of the deceased person’s assets will be governed by Texas intestacy law. This law means that the deceased person’s assets will be distributed to their heirs as determined by state law rather than according to the provisions of the invalid will.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Contest a Will?
While you are not required to hire an attorney to contest a will in Texas, it is highly recommended that you do so. Contesting a will can be a complex and emotionally-charged process. An experienced probate attorney can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that your rights are protected.
An attorney can help you evaluate the strength of your case, gather evidence, and present your case effectively in court. They can also negotiate with the other party or parties involved to try to reach a settlement before going to trial.
Additionally, an attorney can help you understand the legal process and the potential outcomes of your case. They can also help you determine whether pursuing a will contest or exploring other legal options is in your best interest.
Seek Reliable Legal Assistance
Don’t face the legal system on your own. Seek reliable legal assistance when contesting a will. My firm, Russell Manning Attorney at Law can help you exercise your rights while keeping your best interests in mind. I proudly serve clients in Corpus Christi, Bee, Kleberg, Nueces, Live Oak, Jim Wells, Aransas, and Victoria counties, Texas. The clock is ticking. Don’t delay.