What is involved in contesting a will?

| Jan 14, 2021 | Estate Planning And Probate |

Not everyone may be happy with the directives in a will. Heirs left nothing or otherwise disappointed could decide to contest the will. Anyone planning to contest the will in Texas probate court should understand that disappointment won’t likely be enough to overturn the will’s contents. The court may require a high bar and several proven elements before making any changes.

Concerns about an invalid will

In a situation where the deceased did not personally draw up the will and was not in his or her proper mental capacity, strong grounds may exist to contest and to overturn the will. Doing so requires someone with a “stake” per Texas law to make an official challenge in court.

Any proof of fraud, misrepresentation, or coercion could invalidate a will. Of course, evidence would become necessary to sway the court’s decision. People challenging the document could present such evidence as text messages, letters, voicemail messages, witness testimonies, and other materials that the court may use to make a decision.

Even when someone’s true intentions appear in the document’s text, the will must contain elements that make it valid under state law. For example, an unsigned will would not likely stand up in court.

Attorneys and the contesting of a will

Those interested in contesting the will must realize that the testator’s attorney will likely be called as a witness. Persons who sign as witnesses on the will might also provide testimony. So, a testator who doesn’t wish to see his or her will contested may want to avoid DIY estate planning and work with an attorney.

Effective estate planning might provide evidence showing the text reflects the deceased’s true intentions. An attorney might offer documented evidence addressing any counterclaims. That said, no one could guarantee how the probate court eventually rules.

Contesting a will is possible through a legal process, but some elements may be necessary to prove. Effective estate planning and probate preparation could reduce the chances of a valid will suffering any changes. An attorney may be able to help you create a will or even contest someone else’s will.