Unfortunately, probating a Last Will and Testament is oftentimes a very emotional situation that has the potential to cause problems in the family. Contesting a Will in Texas usually occurs when a member of the family is not satisfied with the way the Will was written or executed. One person could have received property that another wanted, or it could be that a relative or close friend was left out entirely.
In the state of Texas, contesting a Will must be done within two years after the original probate, and no matter which side of the Will you find yourself on, a legal representative is needed to direct and guide you through the process.
The person contesting a Will must prove that the Will is invalid or that there is something wrong with it. There are several ways that a Will can be determined to be invalid.
- Lack of capacity. This would mean that the testator must be found incompetent when he or she wrote the Will. The testator had to understand what a Will is, knowing what money and property was theirs and who they wanted to benefit. Medical records would undoubtedly be necessary.
- Undue influence. This would be a situation where another person heavily influenced the writing and signing of the Will, such as an ex-wife or stepchild.
- Improperly executed. All Texas Wills must be signed by the testator and also by two witnesses.
- Revoked Will. There was more than one Will executed.
- Forged Will. If the testator’s signature is not original or it was forged.
- Mistake or Fraud. This would include the testator signing the Will, under the impression that it was another document or they were not clear of the provisions that were stated.
Many people contesting a Will in Texas never get to court because mediation is the suggested course of action for determining conflict with Texas probate. In many instances, the case does not get to the mediator either, as it is settled outside of court between attorneys and family. Attorneys often encourage the person contesting a will in Texas to settle outside of the legal perimeters because it is easier on the family.