While it is possible to sue a will during the probate process, not everyone can sue to contest a will. According to basic probate laws, only "interested persons" may challenge a will, and only for valid legal reasons. The Probate Code identifies "interested persons" as heirs (family members), beneficiaries, creditors, and other parties who have a property right or claim against the estate being administered.
Examples of valid legal reasons to contest a will include:
This 2 part series of articles will focus on the ins and outs of challenging a will including:
Part 1 addresses Legal Standing to Contest a Will, Beneficiaries versus legal standing and Heirs versus legal standing. Part 2 will address Minors versus legal standing, Consequences of contesting a Will and No-Contest Clauses in Wills.
While laws vary from state to state, all state laws have requirements that must be met before a will contest can take place. The first requirement that must be satisfied in order to contest a will is "legal standing."
The only persons who have legal standing to challenge a will and sue for inheritance are those who are:
A beneficiary of a will is a person that has been specifically named in the will. Beneficiaries can include a surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, and other relatives, but can also include friends, faith communities, universities, charities, and even pets. Beneficiaries have the legal standing to challenge a will.
Heirs are relatives who would inherit even if the decedent had died "intestate" (without a will). Heirs include spouses, children, parents, grandparents, and siblings. Heirs can challenge a will if they were omitted or were left with a disproportionate share in the inheritance. Heirs have the legal standing to challenge a will because they would have received a share of the estate through the laws of intestate.
If you feel you have legal standing and need to contest a will, you could have an uphill battle ahead of you. For this reason, you should consult an Amarillo probate attorney who can help. Many people have similar questions and go through the same line of questioning when deciding how to proceed with this type of decision. It can be and often is critical that you get legal help understanding the basics of contesting a will. The best way to get this understanding is to contact an experienced probate attorney near you. Stop and take a breath and call an Amarillo probate attorney who has had decades of experience. Pick up the phone and call Amarillo Probate Attorney, Bill Cornett. Bill is your choice as an experienced probate attorney in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. Don’t waste another minute. Call him today.
Your most important action may end up being the phone call that you make to your Amarillo probate lawyer. In the Texas Panhandle that call should be to Amarillo attorney Bill Cornett. Whether you need assistance with a will, probate, or administration of an estate or a contested probate, contact the Law Office of Bill Cornett. Be smart…remember these phone numbers (806) 374-9498 or (800) 658-6618.
Bill Cornett, Amarillo Attorney, with Cornett Law Firm, offers affordable, qualified services as an experienced personal injury lawyer and probate attorney. Bill also has experience in estate planning and agriculture law. Sit down with Bill at his office located at 612 S. Van Buren St. in Amarillo TX by calling (806) 374-9498 or (800) 658-6618 TODAY to schedule a free consultation.
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Bill Cornett grew up on a farm in Knox City, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from Texas Tech University and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law School. Bill was licensed to practice law in the State of Texas in 1973.