How do you contest a will in Texas? What’s the legal process for contesting a will in Texas?
To contest a will in Texas, the first step should be to hire a probate attorney. Although there are many court processes thatpeople can handle without the assistance of an attorney, if you want to contest a will, it’s really best to at least go to a consultation with a probate lawyer.
The two most common legal grounds for contesting a will are (1) that the person making the will lacked “testamentary capacity” when the will was made, and/or that (2) someone exerted “undue influence” on the will-maker (the “testator”) when the will was made.
If you want to argue that the testator did not have testamentary capacity, your probate lawyer will have to prove in probate court that the testator was not “of sound mind.” Texas courts have determined that to be of sound mind, a testator must:
- Generally understand that he/she is making a will, that the will disposes of property, and the nature of his/her property.
- Understand his/her next of kin (courts tend to call it the “natural objects of his or her bounty”).
- “Collect in his mind the elements of the business to be transacted, and hold them long enough to perceive at least their obvious relation to each other, and to be able to form a reasonable judgment as to them.” (Lindley v. Lindley, 384 S.W.2d 676 (Tex. 1964)).
Alternatively, if you think that someone exerted undue influence over the person making the will (the “testator”), the probate lawyer will have to prove in court that:
- Someone exerted influence on the testator.
- The influence was powerful enough to subvert or overpower the mind of the testator at the time the will was signed.
- The will would not have been signed without the exertion of the undue influence.
Although these are the two most common grounds under which to challenge a will in Texas, there are other grounds. For example, you may argue that a newer will exists or that there was some other kind of fraud.
Visit www.ShuttLawFirm.com for more information on how to challenge a last will and testament in Texas, contesting Texas wills, how to contest wills in Texas, how to prevent a will challenge in Texas, Dallas Probate Court, Collin County Probate Court, or how to deal with someone challenging a will in Texas – or email email@example.com.
You can also call Isaac Shutt at (214) 302-8197 for more information on the topic discussed in this blog or to discuss a different legal matter. Quick phone-calls and brief e-mails are always free at Shutt Law Firm PLLC. Please consider the Shutt Law Firm if you’re looking for a Richardson lawyer for probate, Richardson Wills Lawyer, Richardson estate planning attorney, power of attorney in Richardson, TX, or guardianship attorney in Dallas area.
If the will is divided between 3 grown children with 1 getting hardly nothing..and the will states on it “if there is any fighting over the will you get nothing” can you contest this or not
Thank you for the question. The answer depends on several factors. First, a Texas probate attorney should look at the exact wording of the “no contest clause” (probate lawyers call this an “in terrorem clause”). Sometimes, the clause will allow for some types of will contests. So, your first step should be to contact a probate attorney in your area. Many lawyers offer free consultations.