From document errors to concerns about the author’s intentions and mental capacity, there are several reasons that a will may not hold up to legal scrutiny.
In Texas, individuals who have an interest in the deceased’s estate may contest the will’s validity if they have good reason to believe the document is illegitimate.
1. Improper execution
In most cases, a will is only valid in Texas if the document meets certain legal requirements. The author, or testator, must either personally sign the will or instruct another person to sign the document in his or her presence. Additionally, at least two witnesses who do not have a financial interest in the estate must sign the will.
2. Lack of testamentary capacity
For a will to be valid, the individual must have been of sound mind at the time he or she executed the document. A potential beneficiary or heir may challenge a will if they believe the testator was not capable of understanding the nature, details and importance of the document they were signing.
3. Presence of undue influence
A beneficiary or heir may also contest a will if he or she believes the author only signed the document due to the excessive influence, manipulation or extortion of a financially motivated individual. For instance, there may be suspicion of undue influence if the testator made a sudden, unexpected change to a will that substantially benefits an unrelated individual with a controlling presence in his or her life.
Those looking to challenge a will may want to do so very soon after the probate process begins. In Texas, interested parties may only contest a will within two years of the date that probate started or that evidence of fraud or forgery surfaced.