Top Tips to Prevent Family from Contesting a Will in Texas

If you have a Texas Last Will & Testament or are considering getting a Texas Will, you should consider how your choices impacts your loved ones.  After your death, if any one of your family members challenges your will in court, this “will contest” may drain money from your estate. In other words, your estate will have to pay the probate attorney to defend your Last Will and Testament in probate court.

There are practical steps to take in minimizing the likelihood that your Will can be challenged in probate court.  A recent article published by the Wall Street Journal outlines some of these steps.

This article discusses some practical advice on preventing family members from contesting a will.

Tip 1: Consult an Estates Attorney to Prepare Your Texas Will

Hiring a professional to prepare your Texas Will or other legal documents may seem expensive. They have all said at one time or another that “There are two times in your life that you absolutely need a lawyer and that is if you are injured or you die.” they all laugh and say you can even get through a divorce by yourself. They do have a point, families have done crazy things to prove who deserves Grandpa Joe’s multi-million dollar estate.  So it really costs very little if you think of it that way, and the legal advice can pay off in spades.  If the attorney hired to prepare your Last Will helps prevent a will contest, your estate has less risk exposure after your death.  Attorneys focused on estates and probate law can spot risk exposure and make recommendations in how your Will is structured.

Consider this example from the Wall Street Journal Article:

“Lots of times, we hear people say that they want to leave everything equally to their kids,” […] “But that’s not always fair, especially with something more intricate like a business where you have one person doing all this work and the others are not.”

Tip 2:  Don’t Forget About the Non-Probate Assets

At the time of your death, any property you own that is transferred via your Texas Last Will is called “probate property” or “estate property.”  Some of your property will be transferred outside of the probate court (meaning, your Will does not direct who inherits that property).  This property is called non-probate property.

The most common examples of non-probate assets:  life insurance policies, retirement accounts and bank accounts with beneficiary designations listed.

Regardless of what your Will says, these non-probate properties will be transferred to the beneficiaries you listed during your lifetime.

It’s important to remember your non-probate assets when creating your Will.  For example, if your Texas Will states that your children are to inherit your estate equally, but you forget that you made one of the children a beneficiary on your bank account…  when you pass away, one of your children is going to be thrilled, and the others are going to be disappointed or angry.  The disappointed children may be angry enough to hire an attorney to challenge your will in court.

Tip 3:  Communicate Your Wishes to Your Family

After you’ve created your Last Will and double-checked the beneficiary designations on your non-probate assets, it’s important that you communicate your wishes to your loved ones.  This is the most overlooked step, and it’s a step you don’t want to miss.

In the Wall Street Journal article, the author uses the example of a couple establishing an estate plan.  This couple owns a business and wants to give the business to one child, while leaving other property to their other two children.  This arrangement was a surprise to the three children.  However, this arrangement is unlikely to become contentious because the couple communicated their wishes to the children.

According to the article, “The two younger children had questions, and voiced some concern about being left out of the business. […] ‘The family is fine’ […] ‘This didn’t tear them apart.'”  The couple’s adviser concluded by saying,”The lesson here is that you’re better off having these discussions now rather than arguing about them later.”


Free Consultation

To ask a legal question or get legal help from Texas wills and Texas probate lawyer Isaac Shutt, use the online contact form to the right or call (214) 302-8197. If you prefer to meet at the office in person in Richardson, TX- the attorney will gladly offer a free consultation.

Visit for more information on how to challenge a will in court in Texas, preventing your family from contesting a will in Texas, contesting a Texas probate, getting a Last Will and Testament in Texas that’s unlikely to be challenged in probate court, contact Richardson, TX Probate Attorney Isaac Shutt at

Shutt Law Firm’s office is conveniently located just north of Dallas, TX and just South of Plano, Texas. The law office is near the intersection of highway 75 and Campbell Road in Richardson, TX.


You can also call Mr. Shutt at (214) 302-8197 for more information on the topic discussed in this article or to discuss a different legal matter. For existing clients, quick phone-calls and brief e-mails are always free at Shutt Law Firm PLLC.

Please consider the Shutt Law Firm if you want to know “how much does probate cost in Texas?”, more about Texas trusts, a Texas Last Will and Testament, or if you need Dallas Probate Attorneys serving Richardson, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Garland, Addison, TX, Collin County, or surrounding North Texas area.


DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this brief article constitutes legal advice. The information provided herein is merely provided in the spirit of education. If you have a legal question, you should consult an attorney for your specific legal situation. Further, nothing in this article shall be construed to have started an attorney-client relationship. No such relationship exists until both you and attorney Isaac Shutt sign an engagement letter with the Shutt Law Firm, PLLC.

Probate Attorney, Wills Lawyer, and Guardianship Attorney By Isaac Shutt