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3 common grounds for contesting a will in Texas

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Civil Litigation |

Contesting a will in Texas can occur for various reasons. Three common grounds include undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity and fraud.

Understanding these grounds is important when there is a dispute over the validity of a will.

1. Undue influence

Undue influence occurs when someone exerts excessive pressure on the testator, the person who made the will, to change or create a will in a way that benefits the influencer. This pressure must overpower the testator’s free will, causing them to act against their true intentions.

Evidence of undue influence can include isolation of the testator from family and friends, dependence on the influencer for care and sudden, unexplained changes in the will that favor the influencer.

2. Lack of testamentary capacity

Testamentary capacity refers to the testator’s legal and mental ability to make or alter a valid will. For a will to be valid, the testator must understand the nature of the act of making a will, know the extent of their property, recognize the natural beneficiaries of their estate and understand the disposition they are making.

If it can be shown that the testator did not meet these criteria due to mental illness, dementia or other conditions affecting their cognitive functions, the will can be contested and potentially invalidated. Evidence such as medical records and witness testimonies can prove lack of testamentary capacity.

3. Fraud

Fraud involves deceit or trickery to manipulate the testator into creating or altering a will. There are several types of fraud, including fraud in the inducement and fraud in the execution.

Fraud in the inducement occurs when someone misleads the testator into making certain decisions based on false information. Fraud in the execution involves deceiving the testator about the document they are signing, such as thinking it is a different document entirely.

Each ground requires substantial evidence to prove. However, if proof occurs, the court can declare the will invalid.