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Protecting Your Legacy

Who can legally contest an estate?

by | Apr 20, 2022 | Will Contest |

Whether expected or the result of a tragic accident, the loss of a loved one is never easy. It is frustrating to think that some may find themselves dealing with additional stress when a will has unexpected results. What if you were unexpectedly left out of the will? Or you were promised something that was not delivered within the will? Can you challenge that document?

Texas state law generally allows for anyone who has an interest in the estate to challenge the will. The law defines an interested person as an heir or family member, beneficiary, creditor, or other party that has a property claim against the estate if they have a valid legal reason to do so.

Who qualifies as an interested party?

An heir, such as a spouse, child, parent, sibling, or grandparent, can challenge a will if they believe the property owner unintentionally left them out of the will. The law defines a beneficiary as a named party who benefits from the estate. This could include an individual, like a family member or friend, or an organization, like a church, library, university, or charity.

What is a valid legal reason to challenge an estate?

An individual has many options to challenge a will. They could argue the estate owner was not of a sound mind when they made the will potentially invalidating the will. Other challenges to a will could include undue influence or a failure to meet the state’s requirements to make a valid will, such as the number of witnesses.

What happens if someone challenges an estate?

The challenge will likely slow the distribution of the estate and can result in court orders that make it difficult to transfer assets. This is helpful to those who make the challenge, as it provides time for the courts to get the matter straightened out.

Those who challenge the estate can get a court order to have a sheriff seize property if there is concern the estate administrator or executor is about to remove the estate or part of the estate outside of the state. Texas state law calls this process a writ of attachment.