To challenge a will can be an intimidating idea. The entertainment industry sometimes shows families arguing over a deceased family member’s estate, usually in a humorous way. But estate fights are rarely funny. Heirs or other interested parties might challenge a Will for a number of reasons, from greed to a deep suspicion that something’s not right. We will look at five reasons people might turn to probate litigation for some answers.
#1. Testator Did Not Understand What They Were Signing
For a Will to be valid, the person who signed it (the “Testator”) must have the testamentary capacity to understand its provisions. Under the Texas Estates Code, the Testator must be of sound mind and:
· At least 18 years old, or
· Married, or has been married, or
· A member of U.S. armed forces.
When a Will is signed, the Testator should be asked certain questions to determine whether they understand what they are doing.
#2. Testator Was Forced or Coerced to Sign the Will.
In some cases, the Testator might seem to have testamentary capacity, but other forces are at work. Someone might have forced the Testator to sign their Will. It’s also possible that another party made promises to the Testator that would only be delivered if the Testator signed the Will. Family members might challenge a Will if they saw signs that the Testator was afraid of a close acquaintance or suddenly exhibited unexplained cash or expensive property.
#3. Someone Fraudulently Induced the Testator to Sign.
Fraudulent inducement occurs when one person lies or misrepresents information to get another person to take action. Heirs might challenge a Will if it appears to be based on misrepresentation or if they know someone lied to the Testator. For example, a healthcare worker might tell an elderly man that his only child is dead, which is untrue. The man then signs a Will leaving everything to the healthcare worker. The true heirs might not discover the deception until after the man dies, leaving them to file probate litigation to challenge the Will.
#4. The Will Does Not Comply with State Laws.
States can enact their own estate planning laws and generally are not required to recognize out-of-state Wills. For example, a Will signed under Delaware laws might not comply with Texas estate planning laws. Although an out-of-state Will might be acceptable, it could also be grounds for probate to challenge the Will.
#5. The Will Contains Technical Flaws.
A simply typographical error is not enough to negate a Will. However, technical mistakes could occur in the body of the Will or in how it was signed. For example, parties might challenge a Will if it violated Texas law by failing to have the required number of witnesses. A probate litigation attorney can review the Will during probate to see if technical flaws support the heir’s claim that a Will is invalid.
Do You Need to Challenge a Will?
The attorneys at Henke, Williams & Boll assist clients like you with probate litigation and other matters. But we don’t just help a little. We win cases through aggressive representation using extensive knowledge of the Texas legal system.
Our attorneys have more than 100 combined years of experience practicing law, and our broad range of knowledge enables us to provide practical solutions tailored to the unique needs of our clients. We are a proud law firm with commitment and passion for assisting those in need. Let us help you get the results you deserve.
For a free consultation or phone appointment, call 713-940-4500 or use the convenient contact form located on our website. [link to website]. We represent clients in the Houston area, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Waller County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, and Brazoria County.