If you believe issues exist with the will of a recently deceased loved one, you may want to take action. However, serious legal procedures go along with contesting a will, and, therefore, you may wish to feel confident that moving forward with such action suits your circumstances. Only certain individuals can contest a will and must do so on specific grounds.
Before taking steps toward litigation, you may want to first assess your situation and determine whether cause exists for a legitimate case.
In order for you to even have the ability to make a claim against the will, you must have legal standing. Standing means that the outcomes of a case has the potential to affect you personally. If the deceased named you as a beneficiary in the will or if you would fall into the category of an intestate heir, you likely have standing to contest a will. If a bank or other organization wishes to contest, the organization must have been named in the will.
After you have determined your standing and decide to proceed with your claim, you must ensure that the time frame for a claim has not closed. In Texas, a general, two-year period exists in which you could contest a will. However, exceptions to this rule apply, and in some cases, individuals may have up to four years to file their claims. If the allotted amount of time fitting your circumstances has lapsed, you cannot file a legal claim in regards to the will.
After establishing your standing and ensuring that you still have time to file a will contest, the next step involves determining the grounds on which you wish to file your claim. Four grounds exist on which this type of claim can move forward. You may contest the will if:
- Proper legal formalities were not followed
- The will creator's mental capacity comes into question
- An outside party subjected the creator to undue influence
- The will was fraudulently created
Once you have addressed these three aspects and feel that you have reason to present a case, you may need further information on the legal proceedings associated with contesting a will. Because you must prove and argue many factors when it comes to this type of legal claim, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the prospect. However, if you believe that action is necessary to correct an injustice, you may wish to speak with an experienced Texas attorney who could provide you with valuable information and assistance.