Contesting a will requires a timely filing with strong evidence

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2022 | Firm News |

A will represents the intent and last wishes of a deceased person. the deceased met the legal requirements, most state laws offer limited options for a person to challenge, or contest, its terms. A probate court will examine the will to determine its validity.

Only those with a stake in the terms of the will, such as those disinherited by a new will or financially affected by its terms, have the legal authority to contest the will.

Legal means to contest a will

Generally, a person who contests a will use one of four legal bases. The specific elements vary by state, but they include:

  • Capacity: The deceased understood the value of the estate’s assets, who should inherit them, and the legal effect of creating and signing a will.
  • Improper Execution: The deceased signed the will in the presence of witnesses. This represents the most common basis for a will contest.
  • Undue Influence: A third-party committed acts such as paying for the will or isolating the deceased from others.
  • Fraud: The deceased signs document other than a will only by the deceit of a third party.

Specific Texas requirements

Handwritten wills are valid in Texas under certain conditions. Since they are often written in emergency circumstances where planning may not have occurred, these types of wills may be more susceptible to undue influence or lack of authenticity.

An important note concerns the time limits for a will contest under state law. Texas law requires an official will contest to begin within two years after the will was admitted to probate.

Will contests require strong evidence. In addition, the need for witnesses and testimony can prolong the process. Attorneys who have extensive experience in will contests can provide more information.