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Dallas Lawyers for Contesting a Will for Improper Execution

If you want to challenge the validity of your loved one’s will due to improper execution, you should contact Staubus and Randall to discuss your legal options. You might have a case you can pursue in probate court to contest the will.

contesting a will for improper executionImproper execution means the testator, the person creating the will, did not sign the will, did not sign it in front of two witnesses, or the two witnesses didn’t sign it. Texas strictly enforces what a person needs to do to execute a valid will. If it doesn’t include all the necessary requirements, a beneficiary, heir, or another party could file a claim to contest its validity.

The Dallas estate litigation lawyers of Staubus and Randall have over 100 years of combined experience handling estate litigation matters. We’re familiar with state laws and the legal procedures required to challenge a deceased individual’s will. When you hire us, we will take over your case from start to finish so you can focus on grieving the loss of your family member. You should not be forced to handle this legal matter when you already face various other responsibilities.

For a free consultation with an experienced and trusted lawyer in Dallas, call Staubus and Randall at 214-691-3411 or reach out to us online.

What Makes a Will Valid?

Under Texas law, a will is only valid if it includes the elements listed below.

Proper Execution

The testator, the person creating and executing a last will and testament, must put their final wishes in writing. There are two types of legally recognized wills in Texas:

  • Holographic will – A holographic will refers to a handwritten document with the testator’s signature. It does not have to be signed in front of a notary public or witnesses.
  • Attested will – An attested will is a typed document. Typically, someone types it on a computer and prints it out for signature. The testator must sign it in front of two witnesses to be valid.

The two witnesses must be over 14 years old. They also cannot be anyone that would benefit from the will, such as an heir or named beneficiary.

Legal Capacity

Creating and executing a last will and testament requires the testator to be of legal capacity. The elements of legal capacity include:

  • Being 18 years of age or older;
  • Having been lawfully married; or
  • Being a member of the United States armed forces.

Testamentary Capacity

Testamentary capacity means the testator is of sound mind and has the mental capacity to understand the action they’re taking by creating and executing a will. They should know the contents of the legal document and the effects it will have when they die. They must also understand the nature of the assets included in their will and who will receive them upon their death.

Testamentary Intent

Testamentary intent means the testator freely and voluntarily signs the will. There is no undue influence by someone else inducing the testator to execute their will.

For example, the will can be considered invalid if another person coerces or threatens the testator into signing.

Improper Execution of a Will

Improper execution includes two major factors:

  • The testator didn’t sign their last will and testament correctly.
  • The testator didn’t sign their will in front of two witnesses.

If your loved one died and you discovered they didn’t execute their will correctly, you might have grounds to contest the validity. You should consult an estate litigation lawyer to determine whether you have a case to pursue.

Parties Eligible to Contest a Will in Texas

contest a will in texasAccording to Texas statute 22.018, only interested parties are allowed to contest a will. Interested parties include:

  • A spouse, heir, devisee, creditor, or someone else who has a right to or claim against the administration of the deceased’s estate
  • Any person interested in an incapacitated person’s welfare, including any minor children

If you are one of these individuals and can prove the testator didn’t execute their will correctly, you could file your case in probate court. You must have evidence to show your loved one’s will wasn’t signed or witnessed as required by state law. If you don’t have the necessary evidence, you will likely lose your case.

Deadline to Challenge a Will

There is a timeframe for pursuing legal action if you believe the will is invalid. This is called a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations in Texas is two years. That means you must initiate your case within two years from the date the court enters the will into probate. Once the statutory deadline expires, you could lose your right to contest the validity of the will.

Probate is the legal process of a court reviewing and validating a will so the administrator or executor can distribute the testator’s assets according to their wishes. You don’t have to wait for probate to start to contest the will. In fact, it might be beneficial to initiate your case in court before probate because it has not been deemed valid by a judge yet.

Why Choose Staubus and Randall?

Since 1992, we have represented Dallas clients in their estate litigation cases. We understand the stress of finding out your loved one’s will might not be valid and the overwhelming responsibility that comes with contesting it. Whether you’re a spouse, heir, or another party, you can count on us to meet your needs and fight hard to try to reach your desired outcome.

Our legal team provides every client with the personalized attention and service they deserve. You will be our top priority while we’re working on your case. We take a custom approach to every legal matter we handle to create the most effective strategy for every one. We have the experience and resources to get the job done.

Staubus and Randall has a reputation for our dedication to our clients and the results we’ve achieved. We hold an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating lawyers can receive. Prestigious legal organizations also listed multiple lawyers from our firm as Texas Super Lawyers and Texas Rising Stars.

Contact Staubus and Randall Today

Contact Staubus and Randall right now if you want to file a lawsuit for the improper execution of your loved one’s will. Whether the testator didn’t sign the will correctly, or there weren’t any witnesses, we could help you contest the will and try to prove it isn’t valid.

Call us at 214-691-3411 for a free consultation with a Dallas estate litigation lawyer and learn more about what we can do for you.

The Firm

The attorneys at Staubus and Randall have over 100 years of combined experience in estate planning, probate, and litigation. We have the knowledge and skills to tackle complex legal issues, such as guardianships, will contests, fiduciary litigation, and trust litigation. We can also handle routine matters, such as estate administration, probating wills, heirship determinations, and other probate court matters.

Staubus and Randall received a preeminent AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating possible from a peer-rated legal service. This rating recognizes our hard work, dedication, and the case results we’re able to achieve.

Staubus & Randall Team

What Our Clients Say

"I recently had the occasion to hire Mr. Staubus for a hotly contested Guardianship matter. Mr. Staubus brought a rare combination of effectiveness, reasonableness and understanding of the human element involved. Mr. Staubus handled all things in a calm, highly competent, effective and reasonable way. It could not have been as easy as he made it seem. He's a credit to the Bar."

Jody

"Before retaining the guidance of the Staubus & Randall firm, I was at my wit's end trying to close an uncle's estate as a co-executor. In addition to dealing with difficult heirs, I had other pressing business issues coming up immediately on estate land in the middle of the Eagleford Shale including dealings with pipeline, seismic, oil & gas, and construction companies. The local bank also refused to give me access to information relating to the estate. This quickly became the most stressful and desperate time in my life...and then I found Joseph Legere who truly became my guardian angel. He was able to get all issues resolved efficiently and the estate fully closed. His professionalism, immense legal knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and amazing communication skills took the burdens off of me and quickly got closure. I am forever indebted to this firm for giving me my life back."

Martha

"Without exception, the legal service, professional attitude, prompt communication of your firm and your legal knowledge is second to none. I only wish I had an attorney here in Boston that could hold a candle to your experience and expertise. Working with you has been a pleasure, but even more, has made me believe that there are knowledgeable attorneys that do care about doing a good job. Thank you Keith! You may not truly understand how much of an impact you are having on peoples lives, but for me, you have helped change my life. As I begin making my dreams come true I can't help but remember none of this would be possible without you."

Joann

"Keith Staubus and Julie Blankenship and their team represented me in a jury trial in the probate court where the ownership of the business which I had worked hard to build was at stake. They successfully fought to preserve my business and my professional reputation, working masterfully to gain the support of the jury. I would not hesitate to hire them again in any bet-the-company litigation.”

Karen

"I have required legal representation twice in my life in two separate will contests. Both times I sought assistance from Keith Staubus and Staubus/Randall. Their service, approach, and determination to obtain results exceeded the other attorneys in each case. Mr. Staubus has always come across as genuine while being direct. He gets the process done in a timely manner with results. I will certainly use him again when and if any new challenges arise.”

David

"After my husband's death, I was devastated by having to defend against a vicious dispute over my husband's estate. Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus made me feel very comfortable in this distressing situation. They were very tough and did an excellent job for me in obtaining a summary judgment in my favor without a full jury trial. I was glad to have them and Diane Walker in my corner to help me achieve an excellent result - I won! If I ever had to go back to probate court, I would hire them again.” - (will and trust construction case)

Flo

"If you need intervention for someone you love but don't know where to turn or who to turn to, Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus helped me through the most difficult and stressful time in my life with a much loved family member. I now believe that good will triumph over evil. They fought for what was right, and good prevailed." (contested guardianship and will contest)

Janet

"As a professional money manager, I have used Ryan Randall's estate planning services both personally and for my clients. Ryan has exhibited three critical attributes in his work with me: (1) high intellectual capacity, (2) exceptional thoroughness, and (3) a total commitment to integrity. In today's litigious world, it can be quite costly not to "get things done right.” An added bonus to us was that we found one of the nicest people we could imagine.”

John

"I was represented by Keith Staubus as an income beneficiary in a lawsuit with the trustee of a family trust. Utilizing the expertise of a forensic accountant and his own trust expertise, Keith was able to negotiate a judicial modification of the trust providing for the buyout of my income interest for a substantial lump sum payment out of the trust, resulting in a win-win situation for all of the parties. I highly recommend Staubus/Randall for any trust disputes and trust modification actions."

Kathy

"I have been a wealth management specialist and retirement plan consultant with the Dallas/Fort Worth financial community for over 20 years. I have engaged Ryan Randall to work with a number of my best clients over the years, including business owners, professionals and families. My clients always appreciate Ryan’s straightforward approach to estate planning, asset protection planning and business succession planning. He makes even the most sophisticated estate planning strategies understandable."

Larry

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