Probate is a necessary legal process that ensues when an individual leaves behind a will following their passing. The probate court serves to confirm the validity of the will and appoint an executor who will oversee the distribution of the deceased’s estate.
The probate process also provides an opportunity for certain individuals to challenge the validity of the will. It is important for both the executor and all other family members of the deceased to understand who can contest the will and the circumstances surrounding such a challenge.
Is it possible for someone to contest the will during probate?
Texas statutes on probate proceedings explain that any person “interested in the estate” may contest the will through a written complaint. Interested individuals include those named in the will or who can prove that they are wrongfully excluded from the document. The court will not acknowledge a challenge or complaint from an individual failing to prove such a connection to the deceased’s estate plan.
When is a challenge against the will valid?
When an interested party raises a challenge against the will, the burden of proof is on them to illustrate why the document, or a specific section of the document, is invalid. The challenger may present evidence or request witnesses to speak on their behalf. If it comes to light that there was a lack of testamentary capacity in the deceased at the time of writing or that they were under undue influence, then the court may decide to render some or all of the will invalid.
While probate proceedings usually proceed relatively smoothly, certain individuals do have the right to contest the will if they can prove the document is invalid. It is the responsibility of the executor to respond to this complaint and act accordingly.