When a loved one dies, it’s natural to want to lay him or her to rest in as peaceful and non-stressful a manner as possible. In the months following your family member’s death, especially if the decedent was your parent or grandparent, you might be involved in the probate process. If certain issues arise, you might even determine the need to contest your loved one’s will, which would no doubt be stressful but may, in the long run, be beneficial.
To contest a will, you must first demonstrate standing. This is a legal term referring to eligibility. In this case, it would mean that you stand to benefit from challenging your family member’s last will and testament. There are numerous reasons why you might have grounds for doing so.
Are you a rightful heir who someone left out of a will?
If your loved one had never signed a last will and testament, would you be in line for an inheritance? If the answer is “yes,” then you might have the right to contest your loved one’s will. A testator (person executing a will) may intentionally omit someone from a list of beneficiaries. In some cases, however, an omission may be an oversight, meaning the testator forgot to add the name but probably would have if he or she had remembered.
Did your loved one execute an estate plan under duress?
Sadly, many older people in the past have been exploited, threatened or convinced under duress to incorporate certain terms or add or omit names from a last will and testament. If you believe this has happened in your parent’s or grandparent’s case, you can bring the matter to the court’s attention by contesting the will.
An example of this would be if you believe that someone has forged your parent’s signature on a will or has convinced your parent to name him or her as a sole beneficiary when there are others who would logically be in line to inherit a portion of the estate.
Did your loved one lack testamentary capacity?
If your parent was not of sound mind when signing a will, the will is not valid. Also, a person executing an estate plan must demonstrate testamentary capacity. This means that he or she clearly understood the value of the estate and the implications of the document, meaning the actions that will occur when the estate passes through probate.
If legal complications arise regarding contesting a will, it is best to seek support from someone who understands Texas probate laws.