Avoiding Will Contests

It is unfortunately a rather common occurrence for a decedent to pass away leaving a valid Last Will and Testament, only to have his or her surviving beneficiaries fight over their inheritances. These situations of hostility following the death of a family member or other loved one are difficult to maneuver, and particularly in Texas, are encouraged to be avoided. Remember, probate litigation not only often causes family strife, but very often leaves both the contesting heirs and the estate itself depleted as a result of court costs and legal fees. If your family situation or other circumstances leave you concerned about possible future litigation over your estate, it is of the utmost importance to thoroughly discuss your options regarding avoiding a will contest with a qualified estate planning attorney.

A common vehicle often utilized to safeguard against probate litigation prior to the death of the decedent is the decedent’s implementation of an “in terrorem” clause within his or her Will. If the testator included an “in terrorem,” or “no contest,” provision in the Will, the terms of the clause—most often stating that any individual who contests the will shall take nothing from the estate—often serve to deter the initiation of a contest. For more information regarding the strength and proper use of “no contest clauses,” we invite you to call the Houston Estate Planning attorneys at Garg & Associates.

A common method of avoiding a will contest following the death of the decedent involves the use of an informal family Agreement. The informal family agreement an agreement whereby those individuals interested in a deceased person’s estate agree not to probate the Will, and agree to the disposition of the estate property among themselves. The state of Texas has held that while a testator’s original wishes should certainly be respected, they need not be precisely carried out if it means avoiding a Will contest. Thus these agreements are most commonly utilized when beneficiaries are trying to avoid litigation costs associated with will contests. There are certain requirements to be met in drafting these agreements, and court approval is required in specific situations. If an informal family agreement appears to be attractive for your particular situation, we encourage you to speak with an estate planning attorney at Garg & Associates to fully discuss your options and the requirements for implementation.

It is also important to remember that situations of mental incapacity or evidence of forgery, deception, fraud or undue influence often give rise to will contests. These are vital issues to discuss with your estate planning attorney to ensure that your Will is validly and appropriately created, and all proper execution formalities are followed. Again, whether you seek to explore all available safeguards for avoiding a will contest prior to the creation your Will, or you seek to discuss your options to avoid litigation prior to the institution of suit, give the attorneys at Garg & Associates a call today.

We invite you to contact us for a consultation. Call Garg & Associates, PC at 281-362-2865 or complete our contact form.

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Garg & Associates, PC | 21 Waterway Avenue, Suite 300 | The Woodlands, Texas 77380 Please call 281-362-2865 | Fax: 866-743-4506
Serving The Woodlands, Spring, Houston, Conroe, Kingwood, Tomball, Cypress, Huntsville, Cleveland, Stafford, Montgomery County, Harris County, West Oaks, Memorial, Sugar
Land, River Oaks, Alief, Stafford, Missouri City, and Southwest Houston Texas.