Will Contests in Texas
When someone who is affected by a will believes that there is something wrong with the will, he or she may “contest” the will in court. This type of case is also known as a “will contest.” Since wills in Texas must follow strict legal guidelines to be considered valid, any failure to meet these requirements may become grounds for a will contest.
Some of the more common grounds for contesting a will under Texas law include:
- Lack of capacity or intent. If the person who wrote the will (the “testator”) did not have the capacity to understand what the will was or what it did, a will contest may be brought to test whether the person had “testamentary capacity.” If the answer is yes, the will may be found valid.
- Influence or duress. In some situations, a person changes his or her will under improper influence or duress from another. A will that is created or changed under influence or duress will not be considered valid, because the decisions in it were not made freely.
- Outdated wills. A will that leaves out children or fails to account for a divorce or a remarriage can often be challenged, because it may fail to protect those closest to the deceased person.
- Fraud or forgery. If a will can be proven to be fraudulent or forged, it will not be considered valid.
- Fails to meet other requirements of Texas law. A will that is not witnessed or signed properly – or one that does not meet other legal requirements – may be considered invalid.
To contest a will in Texas, consider working with a qualified attorney. You also must bring the will contest within the time limits set by Texas law. A lawsuit to contest a will must be filed within two years of the date the will is admitted to probate, according to the Texas Probate Code.
There are only two exceptions to this rule. The first is a case in which the will is a forgery or a fraud. The second is a situation in which the will contest is brought on behalf of a person who did not have legal capacity to contest the will during the two-year period but who later gained that capacity.