Michalk, Beatty & Alcozer, L.P.

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What is most relevant in the decision to contest a will?

A testator (sometimes called grantor or creator) often leaves nothing to chance concerning the drafting and execution of a will. He or she works in a timely manner with proven legal counsel to ensure that all important estate planning elements are sufficiently addressed, coupled with legal formalities being tightly observed.

In a nutshell, all key considerations are adequately dealt with, and the desired outcome concerning heirs, loved ones and other third parties is fully realized.

That above scenario obviously spells the optimal planning outcome following the probate process in Texas and elsewhere.

It also serves as an admonition, though, to planning parties who, for various reasons, leave doors open to disputes and challenges concerning a will’s particulars. Not every will provides for an iron-clad outcome devoid of blowback. As underscored in a recent online article spotlighting will contests, a will’s contents sometimes “throw survivors for a loop.”

The causes of discontent can be many and varied. Perhaps an individual was orally promised some benefit by a grantor that is never mentioned in a will or supporting documents. A would-be beneficiary might argue that a subsequently executed will yet remains to be found and probated. Will contests frequently feature allegations that a creator drafted or altered a will while suffering from a diminished mental capacity or under the undue influence of a third party acting in bad faith.

The above-cited will contest overview notes those possibilities and more. In doing so, it also stresses that a party thinking about challenging a will should “prepare to face an uphill battle to get a portion of the estate.”

That cautionary conveyance hardly means that a challenge is doomed to failure. It does serve to advise, though, that any challenge should be preceded by a candid sit-down with an experienced estate planning legal team to assess realistic outcomes and workable strategies that might be optimally pursued.

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