Undue Influence, Mistake, or Fraud in Wills

When an individual passes away leaving a valid Last Will and Testament, the probate of that Will does not always go smoothly. Sometimes the family or other beneficiaries of the decedent will fight over their inheritances, or accuse one another of wrongdoing relating to the decedent’s creation of the Will itself. These situations of hostility following a death 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. It is very important to thoroughly recognize and understand certain grounds to challenge a decedent’s Will in the probate court, such as the grounds of undue influence and mistake or fraud.

The family should always remember that situations or evidence of forgery, deception, fraud or undue influence often give rise to will contests. If you are considering having a Will drafted, 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.

If, however, you are a potential contestant to the Will of a decedent, it is likewise very important to thoroughly discuss the parameters and burdens of proof relating to these grounds of challenge with a qualified probate attorney. Again, while Will contests and other probate litigation are disfavored and often ending up financially hurting all involved, a family should know its rights if it suspects wrongdoing in the execution of a decedent’s Will.

For instance, “undue influence” may be present where another individual has exerted influence over the decedent in the creation of his or her Will that forced the decedent to draft the Will a certain way. It will require the contestant to show that the deceased would not have distributed his or her property or otherwise included provisions in the Will if the other person had not influenced him or her to do so. Other issues relate to “mistake or fraud,” such as a circumstance where a decedent believed he or she was signing a document other than a Will, or one which involves forgery. If you believe any such situations apply to a decedent’s Will, it is important to discuss all evidence with your trusted Texas probate attorney.

For any questions related to will contests, avoiding will contests, or grounds for challenging a Will being offered for probate, we invite you to call upon the qualified Houston probate attorneys at Garg & Associates. Give us 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.