Livens & Reed, PLLC

Who can initiate probate litigation to contest a will?

Not everyone will be satisfied with how a Texas resident decides to distribute his or her estate upon death. Some will feel as though they should have received something or received more, but not everyone can initiate probate litigation, and certainly not simply because someone did not receive the inheritance he or she expected. Contesting a will can only occur under certain circumstances and by certain people.

Like elsewhere in the country, Texas residents may change their wills when they want to as long as they have the mental capacity to do so. If someone named in the prior will discovers that he or she was not named in the current will, or the will's creator reduced an inheritance outlined in the prior will, that person could contest the will so long as there is a valid legal reason to do so. Simply changing or eliminating an inheritance does not automatically provide a reason to believe the will is invalid.

State law outlines who receives property from an individual's estate if they pass away without a will. The law outlines certain people as heirs to a deceased individual. If one of them is excluded from the will for some reason, but would have received an inheritance in the absence of the will, he or she may have legal standing to file a contest to the will.

The number of people who can file probate litigation contesting the validity of a will is limited. Only those whose personal and financial lives are impacted by it can legally contest it. Establishing the right to question the will is only the first step in this process. From there, the burden is on that individual to prove to the court that the will is not valid. This is often a difficult and lengthy process, and should not be undertaken alone.

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