How Lawyers Can Help Solve Inheritance Disputes
Inheritance disputes are not uncommon. These disputes are legal issues, and no one should handle them without the help of a lawyer.
Many people assume that when a person has written a will prior to their death, that will is legally binding. While this is true in most cases, there are times when disputes arise between family members and one or more parties may wish to contest the will. Or, when internet wills or DIY wills are utilized, there is often times questions that arise regarding whether the legal formalities are contained in the Will and the in the execution of that Will.
It is critical to understand that you cannot contest a will just because you do not like the provisions outlined within it. You must have legal grounds to contest the will, and these cases are governed by many different laws, including the statute of limitations. A probate litigation lawyer can explain these laws and how they apply to your case when helping you solve inheritance disputes.
Reasons to Contest a Will
Generally speaking, heirs and beneficiaries can contest a will on one of several legal grounds. These are as follows:
- Lack of mental capacity: If the person that drafted the will had a lack of testamentary capacity (i.e. mental capacity), the will can be contested. The individual may not have even been aware they were signing a will or may not have realized the terms were changed.
- Undue influence: Wills can be contested when the individual writing the will was placed under duress to include certain provisions or with undue influence.
- Due execution: Texas law outlines certain requirements for wills and when these are not met, it can serve as grounds to challenge the will. For example, wills must be signed in the presence of two credible witnesses in order to be considered valid.
- Non-compliance: Wills are legal documents and so, there are many requirements about how they are to be drafted and executed. When these requirements are not met, a will can be contested.
- Forgery: Wills must be signed by the actual testator of the estate and no one else.
How a Lawyer Can Help with a Dispute
If you believe you have reason to contest a will, a lawyer can advise on the grounds and advise on whether they apply to your case. If they do, they will investigate your case and collect evidence. For example, if you believe the will was forged, you will most likely have to use a handwriting expert that can testify to the fact that the handwriting is not that of the testator’s.
A lawyer will also represent you during mediation or in the probate courts, depending on which is appropriate for your case. Under Texas law, if you want to contest a will, you have the right to submit evidence and call witnesses to be heard by the court. A lawyer is very helpful when making these arguments and will give you the best chance of a successful outcome.
Call Our Estate Planning Lawyers in Lake Jackson Today
If you are in the middle of an inheritance dispute, our Brazoria County probate litigation lawyers in Lake Jackson at Cordoba Law Firm can help you resolve it. We know how to contest wills, and how to defend against challenges made by family members to help ensure your loved one’s last wishes are upheld. Call us today at (979) 297-2854 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.