After the death of a loved one, the last thing you want to deal with is legal paperwork and court battles. But if you feel like you have been wrongfully left out of a will, or if you think the will is not valid, you may have no choice but to contest it. The process of contesting a will can be long and difficult, but it is not impossible. In this blog post, we will walk you through the basics of how to contest a will in Texas. We will also provide some tips on what to do if you find yourself in this situation.
What are the grounds for contesting a will in Texas?
If you contest a will in Texas, the court will consider whether the will was validly executed and whether the testator had the requisite mental capacity to execute the will. The court will also consider whether there was any undue influence or fraud involved in the execution of the will.
If you believe that the will was not validly executed, you can contest it on the grounds that the testator did not have the mental capacity to understand what they were doing when they executed the will. To be considered mentally competent to execute a will, a person must generally understand the nature and extent of their property, know who their natural heirs are, and understand what they are doing when they sign a will.
If you believe that there was undue influence or fraud involved in the execution of the will, you can contest it on those grounds as well. Undue influence occurs when someone uses coercion or persuasion to convince a testator to sign a will that is not in their best interests. Fraud occurs when someone makes material misrepresentations to a testator in order to convince them to sign a will.
How long does it take to contest a will in Texas?
It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to contest a will in Texas, depending on the complexity of the case and the number of parties involved. The first step is to file a petition with the court, which will then set a hearing date. The hearing will be held before a judge, who will decide whether or not to allow the contest. If the judge decides to allow the contest, it will then go to trial.
Does contesting a will go to court?
In order to contest a will in Texas, you must first file a document called a “Petition to Contests Will” with the court. This document must be filed within two years of the date of the decedent’s death. Once the petition is filed, the court will set a hearing date and notify all interested parties of the time and place of the hearing.
At the hearing, the court will consider evidence from both sides and decide whether or not the will is valid. If the court finds that the will is valid, it will be admitted to probate and the estate will be distributed according to its terms. If the court finds that the will is not valid, it will be set aside and the estate will be distributed according to Texas’ intestacy laws.
If you are considering contesting a will in Texas, you should speak with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.
Who pays to contest a will?
In Texas, the person contesting a will (the “contestant”) is responsible for paying the costs of contesting the will, including attorney’s fees. The contestant is also responsible for any bond that may be required by the court. The executor of the estate is not responsible for these costs.
If the contestant is successful in having the will overturned, he or she may be reimbursed for these costs from the estate. If the contestant is unsuccessful, he or she will likely have to pay all of the costs out of pocket.
Who has standing to contest a will in Texas?
If you are an interested party, you have standing to contest a will in Texas. An interested party is someone who would be affected by the probate of the will, such as an heir or beneficiary. You must also file your contest within a certain time frame, typically two years from the date of death. If you do not have standing or if you miss the deadline, you will not be able to contest the will.
There are four grounds on which you can base your contest:
1. The decedent lacked testamentary capacity. This means that the decedent was not of sound mind when they made the will. To prove this, you will need to show that the decedent did not understand what they were doing when they made the will and that they did not know the nature and extent of their property.
2. The will was executed under duress. This means that the decedent was forced into making the will under threat of violence or some other form of coercion.
3. The will was executed in violation of state law. There are a number of requirements for a valid will in Texas, such as witnesses and notarization. If any of these requirements were not met, then the will is invalid.
4. The decedent was unduly influenced by another person. This means that someone used their position of power to convince the decedent to make them a beneficiary in their will.
What are the most common reasons for contesting a will?
The most common reasons for contesting a will are:
1) Lack of testamentary capacity – the person who made the will (the “testator”) must have been of sound mind at the time they made the will. If they were not, then the will is invalid.
2) Undue influence – if another person coerced or manipulated the testator into making a will that benefits them disproportionately, then the will may be contested on those grounds.
3) Fraud – if the testator was tricked into making a will, or if someone forged their signature on a will, then the will is invalid and can be contested.
4) Improper execution – a will must be properly signed and witnessed in order to be valid. If it is not, then it can be contested.
5) Invalid provisions – if the will contains provisions that are illegal or otherwise invalid, then those provisions can be removed from the will and the rest of the will can still be valid.
6) Underage beneficiaries – if the will leaves property to someone who was not yet 18 years old at the time the will was made, then that person may not be able to inherit under the will.
7) Pretermitted heirs – if the testator accidentally forgot to include someone in the will who they intended to benefit, then that person may be able to inherit under the will.
8) Ambiguous language – if the language of the will is unclear or ambiguous, then it may be open to interpretation by the courts.
If you have grounds to contest a will in Texas, it’s important to act quickly and consult with an experienced probate attorney. The process can be complex and time-consuming, but if you have a valid case, it may be worth pursuing. With the help of a qualified lawyer, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you have the best possible chance of success in court.
Do you need an Experienced Attorney to Probate or Contest a Will?
If you are contesting a will in Texas, you need an experienced probate attorney to help you navigate the process. Probate is the legal process of proving a will is valid and distributing the estate according to the terms of the will. Contesting a will can be a complicated and stressful process, but with the help of an experienced attorney, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that the estate is distributed according to your wishes.
Call us today for a FREE attorney consultation. (210) 436-6601.