The last will and testament is one of the most important documents a person could create. A will outlines how your estate is handled following your death, ensuring that the right people receive the right assets.
However, not all wills are legally valid. If you believe that a loved one’s will is invalid, you could file a will contest and ask a court to change the terms of the document. There are many ways to find a resolution in a will contest, including trial, mediation, and negotiation.
Filing a Will Contest in Texas
When a person creates a last will and testament in Texas, he or she must meet several requirements. The testator must be of sound mind and sign the will in the presence of eligible witnesses. The testator must create the terms of the will without coercion, force, or tampering from an external force.
If you believe a will is not legally valid and you would be harmed if the terms of the will are to proceed as they are written, you could file a will contest. These disputes challenge the terms of the will and seek to change them.
To file a will contest in Texas, you need to have standing or a legal right to pursue such a dispute. Generally, you have standing to file a will contest if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You are an heir of the deceased and would receive less under the purported last will and testament than you would if there was no will.
- You are a beneficiary of the will and would receive less under the purported will than you would under a prior will.
You have two years from the date that the will is submitted to probate court to file a will contest in Texas. It is important to initiate your claim as soon as possible to avoid a potential dismissal.
Resolving a Will Dispute Out of Court
The will contest process can be very complex. You will need to file a petition that sets out your legal basis for disputing the will, and you may need to engage in lengthy discovery, where you and the other side exchange evidence and speak to witnesses. Your case will culminate in a trial in probate court, where a judge will decide whether you have basis to dispute the document.
Resolving a will contest in court can be challenging and unpredictable. The judge will have the final say on the terms of your agreement. While it is beneficial in some cases, you may want to engage in alternative dispute resolution processes so that you can retain more control over the process.
With your lawyer by your side, you could try to negotiate with the other party to settle the will contest. You could also engage in mediation, a process where a neutral third-party mediator guides both parties through important legal questions with the goal of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.
Speak with a Texas Will Contest Attorney
Different dispute resolution processes work best for different cases. If you are filing a will contest in Texas, it is important to consult with an attorney about your case so that you can embark on the most beneficial legal pathway.
A Texas will contest attorney can provide valuable support throughout the litigation process and work to secure the outcome that you deserve. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.