Do you have an interest in the estate of someone who recently passed away? Do you question the validity of the deceased person’s will because they revoked a prior will?
The Dallas estate litigation lawyers from Staubus and Randall can help you file a lawsuit to contest the revocation of the prior will. Our team has a century of combined legal experience representing people in estate matters. Whether it’s planning for the handling of your estate or resolving estate disputes, Staubus and Randall can provide you with the legal representation you need.
To set up a consultation with a lawyer, contact us at 214-691-3411 now.
Revocation of a Will
When a person creates their will, they designate who they wish to inherit their property and assets. Everything they own is part of their estate. The testator, the person who is creating the will, sets forth their wishes. Those wishes will be obeyed only if the will is valid. If the testator creates a new will that revokes the old one or destroys their prior will, then the old will is no longer valid.
There are several reasons a testator might want to invalidate or revoke a will. Perhaps they’ve made changes to their assets or property that no longer align with what was included in the previous will, or they want to change how their estate is distributed and to whom.
To revoke their will, the testator can write a new will that explicitly states that the new will is a revocation of the previous will and follow all of the necessary steps to validate it (adding their signature to the will and obtaining the signatures of two witnesses). The testator can also destroy their will. A torn or burned will, for example, would be a revoked will.
If you believe your rights to the estate of the deceased person have been voided as a result of the revocation of the will, and that the revocation was made in error, you can contest it. You’ll have to prepare for a potentially challenging process, however.
Can I Contest the Revocation of a Will?
Certain people with interests in the will or the estate of the deceased person can contest the revocation of a will. The deceased person’s spouse can contest the revocation of the will. Additionally, any person who has a right to the estate of the deceased person under California’s intestate succession laws can contest the deceased’s will. Any company, entity, or person who owns debts that may be contained in the deceased person’s estate can also contest the will.
How Much Time Do I Have to Contest a Revoked Will?
There are statutes of limitations in each state that dictate when a legal process or action can take place. In Texas, the statute of limitations for contesting a will allows two years from the date the will was validated and approved by the court to contest the will. If you were legally incapacitated at the time of the testator’s passing and are no longer, if you are eligible to contest the will, you have two years from the date that you became mentally and legally fit to do so.
The Probate Process and Contesting a Will
A will has to be probated in Texas within four years from the date the testator died. Someone must petition to have the will entered into probate. Beneficiaries named in the will are notified that the petition has been filed. A probate hearing will be scheduled to determine whether the will is valid and to appoint an executor. Beneficiaries or other heirs to the estate can object to the appointment of the executor.
You can contest the will after you hear of the death, after you receive notice of the petition, or after “letters testamentary” are issued to the personal representative. You will have to have legal standing to contest the will, meaning that you have to have an interest in the estate of the deceased person, and you have to have a valid reason for contesting the will (such as the revocation of a will).
If the court has already authenticated the will and the will has been probated, you can still file a lawsuit contesting the will, but it may be much more difficult to be successful in challenging the will. You will have the burden of proving that the will is not actually valid, despite the court’s findings.
If you are successful in your lawsuit contesting the will, then the court will invalidate the will. The testator’s estate in which you have an interest will be probated. The court will determine how the estate will be distributed and to whom based on Texas’ intestate succession laws.
Why You Need an Estate Litigation Attorney at Staubus and Randall
You can file a lawsuit to contest a will on your own. But you may be faced with an overwhelming task.
Even if you filed your lawsuit before the will was admitted to probate, you’d have to provide evidence to support your claim that the will is invalid based upon a faulty revocation. An estate litigation attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence and present a strong case to the court.
During this process, there can be delays and hurdles that you may have to jump. This is a legal process taking place in a court of law. Estate litigation attorneys have the legal knowledge required to help you navigate the process and to represent you adequately in hearings related to the lawsuit.
If you’re interested in contesting the revocation of a will in which you have an interest, you need an attorney to represent your rights and help you reach the outcome you’re hoping for. You can file a lawsuit to contest the will, but it’s a complex legal process.
The Dallas estate litigation lawyers from Staubus and Randall are experienced in estate planning and estate litigation. Reach out to an attorney from Staubus and Randall today at 214-691-3411 to schedule a consultation about your options.