One of the purposes of a will is to establish clear boundaries regarding an individual’s estate distribution plan and intention. This estate planning tool aims to make the probate process smooth and worry-free for the decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries. However, a will is not impassable and can still be subject to challenges.
If you are an interested party to a probate process, here are things you should know when dealing with will contests.
The persons who can challenge a will
While a will is contestable, not everyone can file an action in court. Only individuals who have an interest in the estate can challenge the will. For one, heirs and beneficiaries have a right to contest. A decedent’s friend, who is not family and is not named as a beneficiary in the will, cannot contest the same.
Verify whether the ground to contest is valid
Even if a person has the right to challenge, the ground behind their contest must be valid for their action to stand. An interested party can challenge a will’s validity under the following grounds:
- Lack of testamentary requirements
- Fraud or coercion
- Undue influence
These are the common reasons for challenging a will in Texas.
The burden of proof lies with the challenger
When an interested party contests a will, they must provide evidence to prove their claim. For instance, if they claim that the testator drafted the will against their wishes, they must prove the existence of coercion. Otherwise, the court has no choice but to probate the will.
Will contests are not uncommon. But this does not mean the concept is easy to deal with. There are many things to consider, including the challenger’s standing and the ground’s validity. If you want to ensure that you are well-prepared for probate and anything that could happen in between, consulting with a legal expert can guide you through the process.