Case Study: Contesting a Will in Texas Probate Law


John is seeking to contest his father William’s will after William passed away in November 2022 in Corpus Christi, Texas. William had executed a new will in April 2022, at the age of 89, which John believes was a result of undue influence by his brother and sister-in-law. Additionally, John claims that William had dementia, and thus lacked testamentary capacity when he executed the new will. We’ll analyze how John might go about contesting a will in Texas.

Facts & Procedural History

Contesting a will is a legal process that can be done on various grounds, including undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, fraud, duress, mistake, or revocation. In this case, John is seeking to challenge the validity of the will based on two grounds: undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity.

Contesting a Will: Undue Influence

To contest a will based on undue influence, John must provide evidence to demonstrate that his brother and sister-in-law had a significant influence over William that led to him making changes to his will that he would not have made otherwise. The burden of proof is on John, who must show that:

  1. The influencer had a confidential or fiduciary relationship with the testator
  2. The influencer was in a position to exert influence over the testator
  3. The influencer engaged in conduct that overpowered the testator’s free will
  4. The changes made to the will were the result of the influencer’s conduct

John may present evidence to support these four elements, such as demonstrating how his brother and sister-in-law had a close relationship with William and were involved in his financial affairs.

Contesting a Will: Lack of Testamentary Capacity

To contest a will based on lack of testamentary capacity, John must show that William did not understand the nature of his actions when he executed the new will or did not comprehend the consequences of his actions. The burden of proof is on John, who may need to present medical records or expert testimony to demonstrate that William had cognitive impairment or was not in his right mind when he executed the new will.

The Takeaway

Contesting a will can be a complex legal process, and there are several requirements that must be met to prove its invalidity. In this case, John is seeking to challenge the validity of his father’s will based on undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity. To increase the likelihood of success, John may consider consulting with a Texas probate lawyer who can advise him on his legal options and the strength of his case.

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The content of this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information presented may not apply to your situation and should not be acted upon without consulting a qualified probate attorney. We encourage you to seek the advice of a competent attorney with any legal questions you may have.

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