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500 Main St, Suite J, Kerrville, TX 78028

Kerrville Estates Lawyer Handles Will Contests on Both Sides

Texas attorney helps vindicate rights of proponents and challengers

When a person dies having left a will, its legality must be validated in court. This process, known as probate, can be a simple formality or a contentious affair depending on whether the will is contested. A contest occurs when an heir at law — a person who would stand to inherit if the deceased had died without a will — claims the will is defective. The Law Firm of Richard L. Ellison, P.C. in Kerrville has four decades of experience representing parties in contested probate proceedings. I can serve your interests if you are trying to prove a will or you are a potential heir seeking a fair share of an estate.

Seeking fair probate results consistent with the deceased’s true wishes

A will is a declaration of the deceased’s intentions for disposing of his or her property. However, the law provides that certain relatives have a right to shares of the estate if the deceased died intestate (without a will). In limited situations, those relatives may file challenges to the will. Examples are:

  • Disinherited heirs — When a person who would by law receive a share of the deceased’s estate is left out of the will or is significantly shortchanged, they dispute the action was intentional.
  • Surviving spouses — Texas is a community property state, which means that half of all property acquired during a marriage belongs to each spouse. A surviving spouse has the right to claim his or her half share in this property by challenging a will that makes different dispositions.
  • Children of earlier marriages — A person may change his or her will after remarrying, reducing or eliminating shares of the estate for children from an earlier marriage. The revised will can be challenged on the ground that the disinheritance was not intentional.

These challenges, if successful, do not necessarily invalidate an entire will but only alter the dispositions of property that effect the beneficiary involved. The rest of the will may be upheld.

Texas estate lawyer well-versed in bringing and overcoming will challenges

To challenge a will in Texas, a person must be an “interested party” — someone who has a financial interest in the outcome of the probate case. Wills contests are often based on claims of:

  • Defects in will execution — Wills can be considered invalid if they were either not in writing, not signed or not acknowledged by the minimum number of witnesses.
  • Forgery — Where the signature on a will appears not to match the deceased’s handwriting, or where doubt is otherwise raised to the genuineness of the document, a contest is possible.
  • Lack of testamentary capacity —Evidence of dementia, insane delusion, memory loss and other forms of diminished mental faculties can be used to challenge the capacity to make or change a will.
  • Undue influence — A will may be invalid if anyone convinced the deceased to make it using trickery, fraud, abuse, threats, coercion, emotional manipulation, drugs or other physical or psychological means.

Will challenges are subject to a statute of limitations of two years running from the date the will is offered into probate.

Contact a capable Kerrville attorney to discuss your probate matter

If you are seeking to prove a will or to challenge a will you believe to be invalid or defective to any degree, you need an attorney with experience in contested probate cases. To arrange a consultation at my Kerrville office, call the Law Firm of Richard L. Ellison, P.C. at 830-955-8168 or contact me online.