Most wills go through probate without any problems. They carry out very specific tasks related to your estate. But every once in a while, issues can halt the proceedings. If the decedent was not legally of age or of sound mind when drafting their will, there may be cause to contest the document.
Probate courts in Texas will allow beneficiaries to contest a will that fails to meet certain requirements. However, contesting a will is not simple. The procedure can present some unique challenges in court. That means any legal challenge to a will must stand on firm legal ground. Here are a few of the instances in which a beneficiary can make such a challenge.
On What Legal Grounds Can a Beneficiary Contest a Will?
- Age: A will-maker must have be 18 years of age or older. In some states, younger persons can draft a will if they are in the military, married, or somehow “emancipated”.
- Mental state: When drafting a will, will-makers must be of “sound mind”. They must know what a will does and that they are in the process of making one. They must understand who they are expected to provide for under normal circumstances (for instance, a spouse or child). In addition, they must know what they own and how they would like to distribute the property.
- Undue influence or fraud: Beneficiaries may challenge a will if they suspect it is fraudulent. A court can invalidate any will made under duress or forged.
- Contents of the will itself: Most states require that the documents expressly state that it’s the will of the person who actually wrote it. In addition, the documents must include at least one substantive provision or clause leaving property to someone and must appoint an executor.
- Witnesses: Two other adults must witness the signing and dating of any typed and/or computer printed will. Beneficiaries named in the will usually cannot be witnesses to it.
- Notarization: Having your will notarized is not a requirement, but some wills include a sworn statement that all witnesses signed in front of a notary public. This means the witnesses don’t have to come to court later to swear that the will is valid.
- Residence: A will is valid in any state where the maker of the will died as long as it was valid under the laws of that state where the will-maker lived.
Still Need Help With a Probate Issue? Our Austing Estate Attorney Is Ready to Help
Contesting a will is no easy task. There are many probate laws governing the drafting and execution of these documents. Any mistake or malfeasance could result in years of litigation. At Sheehan Law PLLC, we can assist you in any will contests or disputes whether you are a will-maker or beneficiary. We want to help you protect your family’s legacy. Contact us today for a consultation.