Selecting Your Executor
The executor of a will has many responsibilities. When it’s time to choose your executor , consider speaking with a probate lawyer in The Woodlands for guidance. Your probate lawyer may recommend choosing a professional executor if the estate is large, or if you’re concerned that your loved ones may not be suitable for this role. If you would prefer to select a known executor of your will, please watch this video for some helpful tips.
This probate professional recommends making a list of people whom you trust to carry out your final wishes and manage your legacy. Then, narrow down your choices by considering which individuals are best able to manage official paperwork and pay attention to details. Before designating your executor, ask that individual if he or she is willing to carry out these important duties.
Making The Decision To Challenge A Will
It isn’t always easy to make the decision to challenge a will . If you believe that a deceased relative’s will is invalid, then you should contact a probate attorney near Houston right away. Your probate attorney will determine if there are sufficient grounds to contest a will. One possible situation is when the decedent may have been coerced or deceived when the will was drafted. Or, perhaps you have reason to believe that the will was completely fabricated in its creation, or otherwise altered after it was completed.
Wills are often drafted when the testator is in his or her senior years or after there has been a diagnosis of a terminal illness. If this is the case, then perhaps your will attorney can contest the document on the grounds that the testator was not mentally competent at the time that the will was drafted. Another possibility is that the will was not created under legally binding circumstances. For example, the document may not have been properly signed, witnessed, or notarized.
Probate Spotlight: Disputing an Inheritance
The act of contesting a will in The Woodlands is often seen in an unfavorable light. Opinionated individuals may feel that contesting a will is disrespectful to the decedent, or is, perhaps, little more than an attempt to obtain more financial assets. In fact, estate law does allow legal grounds for challenging a will, with good reason. People who are elderly, in poor health, or otherwise vulnerable may be taken advantage of by non-family caregivers or other individuals. So when a will truly isn’t valid, then the rightful beneficiaries may not receive the inheritance that the decedent desired.
If you suspect that your loved one’s will is invalid, it’s always in your best interests to consult an estate lawyer right away. There are certain time limits to contesting a will. If you know that you are an heir, the deadline is two years from the date that the will was admitted to probate. If you didn’t know that you are an heir, such as if you’ve only recently discovered your birth parents, you have four years to file a challenge from the date at which the estate was closed. Minors must file a challenge within two years from the date of their majority.
One of the grounds for challenging the validity of a will is that the document was improperly executed. For example, if it is a holographic will, it might not have been written entirely in the decedent’s handwriting. If it is an attested will, it might not have been signed by the necessary witnesses, or that the witnesses were disqualified by law from acting as witnesses.
Wills are intended to carry out the wishes of the decedent after his or her death, but sometimes they can be unduly influenced by other parties. Your attorney may argue that the will is invalid because another person used his or her influence to undermine or overpower the decedent at the time that he or she signed the will.
In order for a will to be valid, the testator must be of sound mind at the time of the signing. Your attorney may use medical records and other types of evidence to argue that the decedent was mentally incapable of understanding the effect of the will, the extent of the property, and other aspects of will creation.
How to Keep Your Will from Being Contested
It’s often thought that following a death, an individual’s will is always executed according to his or her wishes. But in fact, some heirs in The Woodlands may challenge the will. A contested will can result in potentially irreversible damage to family relationships and if the will is found to be invalid, the decedent’s wishes may not be respected. To prevent a contentious will contest , you should seek the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney.
Hire an Attorney
One reason why a survivor of the decedent may challenge a will is because it was improperly drafted, or, perhaps, no one properly witnessed the decedent as he or she signed the will. By hiring an attorney to create your will for you, you can significantly reduce the risk that it will be declared invalid. Texas law recognizes two basic types of wills. Holographic wills are entirely handwritten by the individual. Holographic wills do not need to be signed by witnesses, although two witnesses will be required to prove the individual’s handwriting after the death. More commonly, residents of Texas create attested wills, which are typed written. You can make your attested will valid by signing it in the presence of at least two witnesses who are over the age of 14 and who have no interest in the estate.
Including a No Contest Clause
Although it can help, a “no contest” clause is not a foolproof way to prevent a will contest. You can instruct your attorney to include this clause in your will. This clause provides for the disinheritance of anyone who unsuccessfully challenges your will. Unfortunately, Texas courts are reluctant to enforce such clauses in certain instances where a will contest is filed in good faith.
Explain Your Choices
Wills may be contested when one or more beneficiaries become disgruntled with their share (or non-share) of the estate. In short, a will contest is often a way of attempting to obtain more of the money from the estate, or to obtain a particular prized family heirloom. If you feel that your decisions may be deemed controversial among your survivors, then you may decide to explain these choices within the text of the will or even by video at the time of the will signing. A less aggressive option might be to choose to discuss the matter directly with your beneficiaries so that they will understand your choices after your death.
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