When Can One Challenge a Will?

For Texas family members who have concerns following the loss of a loved one, challenging a will is an important process for them to be familiar with. They may wonder though, under what circumstances they can contest a will. Most wills pass through the probate process without issue, but in some circumstances, parties, such as a spouse, may want to challenge a will.

A will contest can be based on a lack of testamentary capacity or undue influence. If there was undue influence on the estate planner when executing the will, such as duress, fraud or forgery, it may be possible to successfully challenge a will. Because there are important requirements for a will to be valid, including that the estate planner has sufficient capacity to execute a will, if those requirements are not met, it may be possible to challenge the will. There are also witness requirements, which can vary by state to be familiar with.

For a will to be valid, the party executing the will must be at least 18-years-old; understand the extent and value of their property; understand who they wish to provide for and who the beneficiaries of the will are; and understand the disposition they are making and what the will means. If a will is successfully challenged, the will may be voided in part or voided in its entirety and a prior will may be used.

Because there are a variety of complexities associated with a will being validly executed or contested, and not all the rules in every state are consistent, trained guidance through the process can be helpful for surviving loved ones. The period of time following the death of a loved one can be overwhelming, which is why understanding the will process is helpful during that difficult time.

Source: Estate.FindLaw.com, “Reasons to Challenge a Will,” accessed on April 1, 2018

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