The death of a love one is difficult season in the lives of the surviving family members. Unfortunately, even close families engage in disagreements regarding property. These issues become even more complicated when more distant relatives, blended families, and entities are involved. Will contest issues include undue influence, lack of mental capacity, fraud, or other issues that cause the validity of the will to be questioned.
It is important to hire an attorney prior to the will being admitted to probate. This means that is advantageous to hire an attorney as soon as possible. Texas law only requires that notice of a will contest is posted on the courthouse bulletin board, until the Monday following the expiration of 10 days after the will is filed for probate. However, a contest to the validity of a will may be filed until the expiration of 2 years. After the expiration of two years then a claim against the will is barred, unless some sort of fraud or forgery occurred.
Probate litigation tests the validity of a will in a court of law. Lawsuits are filed to resolve issues relating to the conduct of a personal representative, the demands of beneficiary’s or creditors, and even the estate distributions tax consequences.
Estate conflicts take manifest themselves in many different forms. As stated above, estate and probate conflicts or lawsuits often involve a third party. The third party is pursuing a path to compel a court appointed fiduciary to perform their required statutory duty. Normally, the issue is whether the fiduciary has engaged in misconduct.
Evidence will be required to support certain elements to provide by a preponderance of the evidence that the required elements are present. The evidence for each case will vary depending on the facts of a particular case. Generally, the evidence used to prove a estate dispute includes witnesses with personal knowledge of the facts relating to the signing of the will, medical records of the testator, prior wills, financial documents, legal documents and contracts. In some cases where capacity is an issue medical records may be required to prove the mental state of the testator.