Dallas Will Contest Attorneys
Diligent Representation Throughout the State of Texas
When someone passes away, their last will and testament determines who will receive their property and who will care for their minor children. The state of Texas requires that wills be properly formalized, and a testator must be of sound mind at the time of the document’s signing. When these and other conditions are not met, a will cannot be recognized as a legally enforceable document.
If you believe an illegitimate document has been admitted to probate, our will contest lawyers in Dallas can help. We can assist you in scenarios where a will is fraudulent, revoked, improperly executed, written under duress, or composed when the testator was mentally incompetent. Our firm is extensively familiar with how will contests are adjudicated in Texas — we have more than two decades of experience! We will work to aggressively protect your interests when contesting a will and do everything possible to deliver a favorable result.
Who Can Contest a Will in Texas?
Any “interested party” can contest the legitimacy of a will in the state of Texas. To successfully contest a will, an individual must demonstrate to the court they qualify as an “interested party.” In practice, anyone with a stake in the deceased’s estate, such as an heir, beneficiary, or creditor, can probably qualify to contest a will.
What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will in Texas?
Dissatisfaction with the decisions made by the testator is not sufficient reason to contest a will. The contesting party has the burden of proving they have legitimate grounds for challenging the document. Our will contest attorneys in Dallas can assess your claim and the corresponding evidence and advise whether you have a viable case.
The state of Texas recognizes the following grounds for contesting a will:
- Revocation. A testator has the right to modify or revoke a portion or the entirety of their will so long as they have testamentary capacity. In some cases, a revoked will can be deliberately or inadvertently admitted to probate. A revoked will is not legally enforceable and can be contested.
- Improper Execution. The state of Texas accepts several types of wills under certain conditions. Oral wills can be accepted if the testator is on their deathbed and at least 3 witnesses hear their intentions. Handwritten wills are accepted if they are entirely written in the testator’s handwriting and signed. Most wills are typewritten and must be signed in the presence of 2 witnesses. If any of these requirements are not met, the will cannot be considered legally enforceable.
- Lack of Capacity. A testator must be of sound mind when they validate a will. This means they must have sufficient mental capacity to understand the decisions they are making. You may be able to contest a will if you suspect the testator was cognitively impaired when they validated the admitted draft.
- Undue Influence. Wills written and validated under duress or any other form of undue influence are not legally enforceable. You may be able to contest a will if you suspect the admitted draft was inappropriately influenced by any party other than the testator.
- Fraud. In some situations, a fraudulent will can be mistakenly or intentionally admitted to probate. If you believe a portion or entirety of the will was not exclusively written by the testator, you will likely have grounds to contest and investigate.
- Mistake. In rare circumstances, you may be able to contest a will because some error on the part of the testator resulted in the document being invalid. A mistake that results in an interested party not receiving the testator intended for them can also be contestable.
When Can a Will Be Contested in Texas?
A will can be formally contested before and after the document has been admitted to probate. Once a motion has been filed to begin probate, any interested parties will have 2 weeks to contest the will before the process begins. Interested parties also typically have up to 2 years to contest a will once a will has been accepted by the court.
When a will is presented to and verified by a probate court, the individual submitting the document will generally be required to prove its authenticity and that it meets all legal requirements. In other words, the court will only accept a will that appears to be genuine. Interested parties seeking to contest a will after the court has already admitted will need to provide a preponderance of evidence demonstrating the document’s invalidity.
Our Dallas will contest lawyers at Roquemore Skierski PLLC can review the available evidence and assist you with challenging a document’s authenticity before and after it has been probated. We can evaluate the full contents of the existing will, determine if you are a named beneficiary, assess any no-contest or forfeiture clauses, and consider how the will’s potential invalidation will impact your interests. Our firm can provide aggressive representation in this area and do everything possible to deliver a favorable result.
Roquemore Skierski PLLC is ready to assist you. We are available 24/7.