When your parents pass away, you want to ensure that their final affairs are taken care of, and that their property is distributed according to their wishes. However, you may be concerned that your parents’ will is not legally valid.
In these situations, you could file a formal lawsuit in probate court to contest the will. Before you can pursue such a claim, it is important to speak with a Texas will contest lawyer who can protect your interests during each stage of litigation.
What Is Legally Required to Make a Will?
To understand whether you have grounds to contest a will, you first need to understand the legal requirements for writing this document. In Texas, a will is legally valid only if the following criteria are true:
- The will is in writing, meaning that it was written by hand, or typed on a computer and printed. Digital wills are not valid in Texas.
- The person who created the will must be at least 18 years old, married, or serving in the military.
- The person who created the will must be of sound mind and memory. This means that he or she understands what it means to make a will; knows the extent of his or her property and relationships; and is capable of making reasonable judgments.
- The person who created the will must do so freely, voluntarily, and without influence or pressure from another party.
- The person who created the will must sign it in the presence of at least two credible witnesses. These witnesses must be at least 14 years old and cannot financially benefit from the will.
Who Is Eligible to Contest a Will in Texas?
According to Section 93 of the Texas Probate Code, a person may contest a will within two years after the will is entered into probate. You may only pursue a will contest if you have legal standing, meaning that you would receive less under the purported will than you would under a prior version or if there was no will at all. Generally, children of the deceased have standing in will contest claims.
When Can You Contest a Will in Texas?
There are many situations where you can contest a will in Texas. Most cases involve at least one of the following legal disputes:
- Lack of Testamentary Capacity: Your parents did not have a legal ability to make a will, such as if they did not understand that they were signing a will or how they were dividing their assets.
- Undue Influence: Your parents were influenced or coerced by another party to make certain decisions about their will.
- Improper Execution: Your parents did not execute the will in a proper manner, such as signing the document in front of witnesses.
Speak to a Texas Will Contest Lawyer
If you believe that your parents’ will is not legally valid, you have the right to file a dispute in Texas civil court. In these situations, it is important to hire an attorney who can protect your rights and fight for your right to civil remedies. After your parents’ will is entered into probate, speak to a Texas will contest lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.