Will Contests

L, Blake Spencer (Son) & R, Kevin Spencer (Father)

Strong and determined Estate & Will contest attorneys in Dallas

A last will and testament is one of the most important documents a person will sign in his or her lifetime. It is his or her last statement and speaks for them post-death. A Will is a solemn legal document, but until the person dies it is revocable and ambulatory - meaning, can be ever changing since a testator has the right to change our Will over and over again, every single day of their life through the moment of death if they want and can meet all requirements.

A common misconception is that a Will is self-executing - meaning, if it exists it controls. However, even after death, a Will has no effect and is not binding on anyone until after it is admitted to probate; even then, it can be set aside as invalid for up to two years after the order admitting it to probate was signed. If executed properly, according to the formalities and solemnities the law requires, which includes the person being of sound mind and it being their free act without duress, it can be probated and, once probated, determines how a decedent’s property passes after his or her death. For a Will to be valid, it must be in writing and executed/signed by a testator (person signing the Will) at a time when the testator is over the age of 18, has his or her mental abilities, while in the presence of two witnesses, who are over the age of 14. A Will can also be valid if it is wholly written in the handwriting of the testator and signed by him or her - known as a holographic Will. A holgraphic will is often, but not always, the toughest to contest.

A court of competent jurisdiction must finde it is the valid Last Will & Testament of a decedent admitting it to probate before it has any binding effect. A Will is also the most common way of creating an independent administration in Texas. Independent means independent of or outside court supervision. With letters testamentary, an independent executor can, within his/her/its fiduciary duties, do anything and take all action the decedent could have done with his or her property prior to death. It is a fiduciary position of trust that, when done correctly, make the Texas probate system very efficient. But, when done incorrectly or abused, makes it high risk and exposes beneficiaries to dissipation, theft or loss of their inheritance. These are just some of the examples of how important a Will is and the gravity and importance of the authority granted an independent executor by a court over a decedent's property. It cannot be taken lightly, and beneficiaries must be diligent to keep an eye one and to protect their inheritance.

Filing a will contest

Unfortunately, usually later in life when a person loses his or her mental abilities, unscrupulous people can take advantage of a loved one and cause a will to be prepared that does not reflect the true intentions of the testator. These conditions and the aging process make the testator vulnerable, preventing them from protecting themselves against the overreaching of a third party. In the event that a will does not properly express the true intentions of the decedent, the will can be contested by those interested in the estate based upon lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud or forgery. A will contest cannot be filed until after the testator is deceased, because, under the law, a person’s right to execute a will cannot be abridged.

It is important to hire an attorney to file a will contest quickly because there are advantages to filing your contest before the will is admitted to probate. The only notice of a will contest that is required in Texas is a posted notice on the courthouse bulletin board, usually where they file for foreclosure sales, until the Monday following the expiration of 10 days after the will is filed for probate – such a contest is said to be pre-probate. However, a will contest can be filed up to 2 years after the date of the court order admitting the will to probate, a post-probate contest. If a contest is not filed within 2 years following the date of the order probating the will, then the contest/claim is forever barred, unless the will is a fraud or was forged.

Find a Will Contest Attorney That Fights For You

At Spencer, Johnson, & Harvell, PLLC, our Dallas will contest attorneys are committed to fighting for the intentions of a decedent and his or her loved ones by setting the Will aside as if it had never been signed to restore the inheritance plan of the decedent that was in place at a time when there is no question about the decedent’s capacity. In addition, if the decedent was taken advantage of and over-powered to the point of being unable to resist such pressure of signing whatever was presented to avoid such duress. Such pressure is an undue influence and a will contest can be filed seeking to rectify and correct such injustice.

Dallas estate attorneys helping you correct injustice!

Based in Dallas, Texas, our will contest law firm serves individuals and families with complex and often emotional inheritance disputes. We understand how stressful it can be when your loved one’s wishes and desires have been manipulated or disregarded altogether, and we are prepared to fight for you to get the inheritance you have expected all your life.

For over 30 years, the will contest attorneys at Spencer & Johnson, PLLC have assisted clients with:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity, or mental abilities. to understand and execute will
  • Undue influence, forcing a testator to sign a will he/she would not have signed, but for the pressure and duress
  • Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Breach of fiduciary duty, breaching duties as executor or administrator
  • Theft of fiduciary property
  • Removal of executors and administrators of estates

When you consult with Spencer, Johnson & Harvell, PLLC, you can expect us to treat you with compassion and respect. We will give you personal service and welcome your participation in the preparation of your case.

We recognize how important it is to protect the intentions of the ones you care for the most and to protect your inheritance. Our team is known for fighting to correct the injustice of an invalid will that does not reflect the decedent’s true intentions. We will work to develop a legal strategy that will effectively address your concerns and work to resolve your issues, hopefully, through a family settlement agreement. If the opposing party is unresponsive to our requests or to amicable negotiation, we will not hesitate to pursue them aggressively in an effort to promote your best interests in court.

Learn about how Spencer, Johnson & Harvell, PLLC, handles trust contests and disputes.

When a Will you have offered for probate has been contested, we would be proud to represent you in defending its validity either by presenting evidence that it was executed properly with the decedent having his or her capacity or that there was no undue influence. A Will is one of the most important documents a person will sign in his or her entire life. If it has been executed properly, regardless of what the end result might be, we Will defend it in an effort to secure your inheritance. We are ready to go to work for and with you to uphold the Will that you believe to be the true last Will of a decedent.

Dallas Probate Attorneys

(214) 965-9999

Spencer, Johnson & Harvell, PLLC, invites you to contact our law office today to schedule a free consultation regarding your estate and trust matters.

We are located in Dallas, but we travel throughout Texas to serve our clients. Ask us about our hourly and contingency fees.

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For excellent and caring representation at reasonable rates, contact us today.

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