Losing a loved one is always hard. Maybe your loved was sick for a long time, or perhaps he or she passed suddenly. No matter how they passed on, it is impossible to prepare for such a tremendous loss. One comfort is knowing your loved one is at peace.
As you move through the grieving process, you are likely experiencing many emotions. However, surprise is not one emotion you expected to experience. But learning you were almost entirely cut out, or completely cut out, of your loved one’s will is a surprise. You were close over the years, and he or she indicated you would be remembered in the will. Now you are unsure what to do. Here is what you need to know about contesting a will in Texas.
You can contest a will in these scenarios:
- Missing signatures: A will must have all the signatures to be considered valid. If there are missing signatures, you may have grounds to question a will.
- Lacking capacity: If your loved one was suffering from dementia or otherwise lacking mental capacity, you could argue he or she did not have the proper mental capacity to draft or make changes to a will.
- Improperly influenced: You may suspect your loved one was pressured into creating or changing a will due to pressure from another party. Perhaps the will names this person as a large benefactor in the will. You need evidence to support this accusation, so you consider contacting an estate planning attorney to help you craft a case against the wrongdoer.
- Fraud: Perhaps you think the entire will is fake, or that another person tricked your loved one into signing the document. Again, you need evidence to support this claim.
- No contest clause: A no contest clause states that anyone who questions the will is to be removed completely from the will. These kinds of clauses are considered highly suspicious, and an attorney can often get this invalidated.
Who can dispute a will?
If you think one of these scenarios occurred, you may want to contest your loved one’s will. However, not just anyone can contest a will. You must be considered an interested party to contest a will. An interested party is someone who was named in the will, was named in a previous will or has a good reason to believe he or she should have been named in the will. A close relative may be considered an interested party.
What is the statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations for disputing a will depends on the circumstances. If you can challenge the will before it enters probate, this is ideal. That halts the entire probate process, and you do not need such an overwhelming burden of proof.
After the probate process starts, you usually have two years to contest a will in Texas. There are exceptions to this rule. If you find a new will after the other will enters probate, you have four years to submit this will, if it is dated after the first will. If you belatedly discover the will is fraudulent, you have two years after finding the fraud to challenge the will.
No one wants to get into a messy legal battle about a loved ones’ affairs. However, knowing your loved one’s wishes are not being respected or that he or she was taken advantage of just does not sit right. You can try to protect your loved one’s interests by contesting a will.