Fighting for Fair Treatment in a Will Contest
Frisco Probate Litigation Attorney
When disputes arise over the validity of provisions in a Last Will and Testament, or the validity of the entire Will, the distribution of assets can suffer lengthy delays. Now you are entangled in a messy probate dispute that could drive a wedge between you and other family members.
At Albin Oldner Law, PLLC, we recognize how distressing probate litigation can be. We strive to reduce costs, speed up a final resolution, minimize tensions and preserve valued relationships with other beneficiaries. We work hard to avoid a lengthy and contentious trial by pursuing equitable settlements when possible.
If you need to challenge a Will, consult a probate lawyer as early in the probate process as possible. Texas inheritance law places a statute of limitations on bringing beneficiary claims in court. Missing that deadline means you have lost your chance to challenge an invalid Will.
Do You Have Standing to Contest a Will?
Standing refers to the legal right to pursue a claim in probate court or civil court. According to the Texas Estates Code, a Last Will and Testament can be contested by anyone who has a stake in the case, such as:
- An heir or beneficiary of the current Will or a previous Will,
- A spouse,
- A creditor owed money by the deceased,
- Parents or guardians acting on behalf of a minor or incapacitated person, or
- Anybody else who has property rights in or claims against the estate.
What are the Grounds to Contest a Will?
Texas courts do not allow you to challenge a Will just because you believe it is unfair or not what you were promised. The law establishes specific grounds upon which you can bring a case to court. Some of these grounds include:
- Testator’s mental state: The person who signed the Will must have been “of sound mind” when he or she created the will. Heirs may contest a Will if they believe the person who created it was suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or mental illness or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the signing.
- Undue influence: Undue influence occurs when a person of trust — such as a family member or caretaker — pressures, manipulates or coaxes a vulnerable testator to abide by the influencer’s wishes.
- Fraud: Procuring or altering the conditions of a Will by trickery is fraudulent, as is forging the testator’s signature on a Will.
- Insufficiency: In some cases, a problem with the Will itself renders it invalid. For example, there may have been too few witnesses or the signer may have been under age. Insufficiency usually only occurs if the testator did not consult with a qualified estate planning or probate attorney.
- Codicil or superseding Will exists: A beneficiary may claim that the testator amended her or his Will or drafted an entirely new document that overrides previous terms of property allocation.
Consult a Probate Litigator about Contesting a Will
If you have questions about whether you have standing or grounds to contest a Will, talk to our probate litigators. We serve clients in McKinney, Celina, Allen and communities throughout Denton County.