Texas Will Contest
Our law office assists clients with Will Contests in Texas, both in contesting wills and in defending wills. “Contesting a will” involves a lawsuit that attacks the validity of a will in probate court. If you plan to contest a will or to defend the validity of a will, your probate attorney will likely introduce you to the common ways of contesting a will in Texas:
Lack of Mental Capacity
In order for a will to be valid in Texas, the person signing the will (called the “testator”) must have the appropriate soundness of mind. A sound mind, for the purposes of a will contest, means that the testator had “testamentary capacity” at the time the will was signed. In short, a will in Texas may be invalid if the testator lacked the mental capacity to understand what he owned at the time the will was signed, to understand whom he was capable of giving that property to, to understand that he intended to make a will, and to understand the effect of signing his will.
A Texas will can be contested due to improper signature. For example, the signature on the will may be a forgery. Also, since typed wills must be witnessed by two witnesses, a will may be contested due to lack of witness signature.
If the testator’s mind was unduly influenced by another person, the will can be contested on the basis of undue influence. Under Texas law, undue influence occurs when the testator’s mind was inappropriately affected by another person at the time of the will signing.
Duress, Fraud, and Tortious Interference with Inheritance Rights
While lack of mental capacity, improper execution, and undue influence are the most common ways to contest a Texas will, courts have recognized other ways of attacking the validity of a will. However, it is more difficult to challenge the will on the basis of duress, fraud, or tortious Interference with inheritance rights. As a result, these methods are less common.
In the Dallas area, will contests are generally litigated in the Dallas County Probate Courts, Collin County Probate Court, Tarrant County Probate Courts, or Denton County Probate Courts.