Will contests don’t just happen in soap operas and movies. They occur when a person files legal documents with the court asking it to deny the admission of the will into probate, and stop the distribution of a decedent’s estate. Springer & Lyle not only drafts wills and trusts for clients, but we also represent parties in litigation if a will is contested. Many lawyers that practice in probate just don’t have the litigation and trial skills to do that. Some common grounds for will contests follow.
The testator is the person who either drafted the will or had it drafted for them. Unsound mind, otherwise known as lack of testamentary capacity, is alleged when the person contesting the will claims that the testator didn’t mentally comprehend what they were signing, what he or she was giving away or who they were giving it to.
Execution of the Will
The law in Texas requires that a will be executed in accordance with certain requirements. The general rule is that the will must be in writing and signed by the testator and two witnesses over the age of 14 in the testator’s presence and in the presence of each other. Texas recognizes holographic wills that were written in the testator’s own hand and signed by the testator. Holographic wills have no witness requirement, but are subject to challenge if anything in the document was not written by the testator.
Undue influence might be alleged after a testator executes a will that he or she wouldn’t have signed but for the fact that their mind was overpowered. The testator would not have signed that will if he or she had not been unfairly taken advantage of by somebody who stands to benefit in the distribution of the estate.
If you’re contemplating contesting a will, Texas law requires you to act quickly. When a will and application to probate it are filed, you’ll want to file your documents contesting it within two weeks. Call Springer & Lyle right away after a disputed will is filed. Failure to timely file your objection can make the process of a will contest considerably more difficult.
When the trial lawyers at Springer and Lyle are involved in either side of a will contest, your interests are going be represented skillfully and responsibly. Contact us with your questions about wills, trusts or contesting them. You’ll get straight talk and solutions.