Contests to wills and trusts can open up complex, high-stakes disputes while raising serious questions about the creation of an estate plan or certain devices within it. In some cases, raising will or trust contests may be a judicious and necessary move, shining an important light on fraud or other wrongdoings. Whether you need to raise or defend against a will contest or a trust dispute, you could be facing a complicated conflict with uncompromising deadlines, strict rules, and multiple court proceedings.
You can protect your interests and navigate the process with more confidence with the Law Office of Todd A. Wilson, also known as TAW Law Texas, on your side. Our Austin wills and trusts attorneys have vast experience representing and counseling clients through all types of will contests and trust disputes.
We work with beneficiaries, fiduciaries, and others, offering exceptional advocacy, guidance, and support at every step of the process.
Get more answers about the grounds, deadlines, standing, and other facets of will contests and trust disputes below. Feel free to contact our highly skilled Austin lawyers for a free confidential consultation whenever you are ready for insights and information related to your situation.
At the Law Office of Todd A. Wilson, also known as TAW Law TX, we specialize in representing clients in nearly every type of will contest and trust dispute, offering strategic, personalized counsel and value-focused representation in Travis County, Williamson County, Hays County, Bastrop County, and surrounding areas.
Highlighting what will contests and trust disputes can entail and how our Austin attorneys can help you through the process, here are some helpful FAQs.
Will contests and trust disputes are essentially fights over some aspect or the entirety of a will document or a trust device. Typically involving beneficiaries, will and trust contests can:
Notably, will and trust disputes can uncover misdeeds, wrongdoings, and attempts to rob beneficiaries of the inheritance and distributions their loved ones would have wanted them to have. Still, these disputes are not intended to be inquiries for those who are simply unhappy with the terms of a will or trust or who don’t like the inheritance left to them.
Texas laws establish specific grounds for raising will contests and trust disputes, and those who bring these actions should generally expect to have evidence to support the allegations they’re making. The Austin wills and trusts lawyers at TAW Law Texas have deep experience with these cases, and we know how to establish various positions, backed by credible evidence, when it’s time to go to court.
Those who can challenge a will or raise trust disputes in Texas need to have “standing” under state law to bring these claims in court. Standing, according to Texas Estate Code Sec. 55.001, applies to:
If an individual without standing attempts to contest a will or dispute a trust in Texas, their claim will usually be dismissed.
To contest a will in Texas, an individual not only needs to have standing (described in detail above), but they also must have grounds to challenge the will, meaning a reasonable basis for taking this legal action. There are a handful of grounds for challenging wills in Texas, and:
The grounds to contest a will in Texas include the following:
Please be aware that it is not always clear when grounds to challenge wills may be present — and that pursuing will contests based on any of these grounds will require evidence of the allegations raised. Either way, working with an experienced attorney can be crucial to understanding the laws, crafting the strongest position, and safeguarding your interests going forward.
The Austin probate lawyers at TAW Law Texas have represented various parties in will challenges and trust disputes, providing strategic representation and client-focused counsel aimed at the best resolutions possible.
The grounds for trust disputes in Texas depend on whether the challenge relates to:
There are strict deadlines for raising both types of trust disputes in Texas, and:
In terms of trust contests versus will contests, yes, in general, trusts tend to be more difficult to contest than wills in Texas. That’s usually due to factors like (and not limited to):
Keep in mind that every situation is unique and that:
A lawyer can explain the process, your rights, and your options at each juncture while also helping you keep a level head, so you can make more informed decisions even in the most heated circumstances. An attorney can also guide and represent you through the ins and outs of these disputes, from crafting a case and submitting court filings and standing up for you in hearings, fighting for you in contentious litigation, and more.
Whether you’re questioning or headed for a will or trust dispute, the sooner you talk to an Austin attorney at TAW Law Texas, the better. Our team can take prompt action to advise, guide, and support you. We can also do what it takes to protect your rights, advance your case, and set it up for the best possible outcome.
Forfeiture clauses can be included in wills to limit the risk of challenges or contests after the testator passes away. Also known as In terrorem clauses or no contest clauses, these terms generally stipulate that beneficiaries will lose out on their inheritance, as detailed in the will, if:
By including no contest clauses in wills, testators can effectively:
Please be aware, however, that no contest clauses should NOT prevent beneficiaries or interested parties from raising legitimate challenges to wills. If there’s reason to suspect forgery, fraud, undue influence, coercion, or some invalidating issue associated with the will:
If you are unsure about how a no contest clause works in a given situation — or you’re questioning any aspect of challenge to a will — it’s time to contact an Austin probate attorney at TAW Law Texas. We are well-versed in will contests, forfeiture clauses, and Texas probate, and we’re ready to share answers to help you make more better choices to support your needs and objectives going forward.
If you are serious about protecting your rights and bringing the strongest possible case, regardless of where you stand on the matter, yes, it’s in your best interests to retain an attorney.
With will and trust disputes in Texas, the truth is that:
Ultimately, an attorney can offer counsel, advice, guidance, and representation, helping to build and present your case in the best possible light. That can be the key to achieving better, if not optimal, outcomes.
Talk to an experienced Austin attorney to find out more about your options for navigating the next steps of a will contest, a trust dispute, or probate in Texas.
TAW Law Texas proudly offers exceptional representation, valuable peace of mind, and client-centered service focused on protecting and advancing your interests.