Do you need to contest a will?
Unfortunately, disputes often arise after the death of a loved one and a probate litigation lawyer is needed.
An example of situations where a probate litigation attorney would be needed is when someone presents a will for probate that is not valid. Examples of an invalid will includes wills that don’t meet all of the requirements of some state’s law, situations involving fraud and situations where a beneficiary unduly influenced the decedent.
One of the most common types of will contests arises when the decedent signed a will at a time when he or she did not have testamentary capacity (the ability to understand that a will was being signed). Severe illnesses, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, can prevent someone from having the capacity to understand that a will is being signed.
When there is no a will, there may be disputes about who is an heir of the decedent and who is not an heir.
CONTESTING A WILL IN TEXAS
In Texas, there are six deadlines for when a will may be contested, which depends on a variety of circumstances. Because the next of kin or the executor of the will has four years from the date of death for the will to be submitted for probate, it’s a situation that can easily get complicated.
The ideal time for contesting a will is before the probate process begins. One of the first steps in the probate process is getting the will validated by the court. In Texas, after the will is sent to a probate court with the application to probate it, a two-week waiting period begins. The probate court will then post a notification that includes the expiration of the waiting period. This is the best time for someone to contest the will.
If someone thinks something is wrong with the will, and it isn’t challenged during this waiting period, it is much more difficult legally to contest the will after the expiration date.
Probate begins in the Lone Star State when the will is validated by the court and an executor is appointed, which takes place at a hearing. Once this occurs, there are two years in which someone is able to contest the will.
However, there are some exceptions to this timeframe, in the following circumstances:
- Frauds and forgery: If evidence of fraud or forgery is discovered, there is then an additional two years from when it is brought to light to contest the will.
- Discovery of Second Will: Additional time is also given to contest a will if a second will is discovered.
- Unaware Heirs: The Texas Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that children of the deceased can have four years to file a claim for their share in the inheritance, if they were unaware of their status during the probate period. This may occur in cases where there are children who were adopted or had not yet discovered who their biological parent was until probate had closed.
- Incapacitated Heirs: Heirs who are incapacitated or are minors have an additional two years to contest a will once capacity is regained or they are old enough to file a lawsuit.
GET HELP FROM AN EXPERIENCED PROBATE ATTORNEY
In these situations, it is important to have an attorney familiar with the probate system and an attorney with trial experience in case the matter has to be tried by a judge or jury. As a former staff attorney for a Harris County Statutory Probate Court, attorney Donald S. Worley knows the probate system and has tried many cases in probate court as a probate litigation lawyer.
The attorneys at McDonald Worley have recovered compensation for past clients in probate court. For information on specific jury verdicts and settlements, please contact the firm. We are proud of our results at McDonald Worley.
On some select probate litigation cases, the case can be accepted by McDonald Worley on a contingency fee basis.
This means that you only have to pay attorney fees if the attorneys at McDonald Worley recover funds on your behalf. If we don’t recover money for you, you don’t have to pay attorney fees.