Houston Estate Planning Lawyers

Mourning the loss of a loved one is a difficult enough time in life. To add insult to injury, financial problems may arise when overreaching creditors, greedy relatives, or dishonest estate executors attempt to take more than they are entitled, either by asserting rights under an invalid last will and testament or contesting the validity of an authentic will.

When disputes arise out of the arrangement of estate wealth, particularly in a will contest, Houston courts are often necessary to resolve the dispute under the Texas Estates Code – and that is where our experienced trust and estates attorneys come in. Our Houston estate planning lawyers have the knowledge and experience you need to resolve the case soundly.

Texas estate law is complex, obscure, and subtle, and the Houston judicial system can be a maze for the uninitiated. However, this is not a problem for the aggressive, fearless, and principled estate planning attorneys at Romano & Sumner. We have amassed a stellar track record of success in will contest proceedings and we are ready to stand by your side to uncover the truth while we fight for your rights in court.

The City of Houston

Houston, the bustling energy and aeronautics capital of the United States, is home to over two million souls within city limits alone and about triple that number in the metro area. With a world-class port facility and one of North America’s busiest international airports, Houston has easily outgrown the “cow town” image that plagued it a century ago.

From the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in the north to Space Center Houston in the south (and beyond), Houston is the largest major metropolis in the nation in terms of total land area. With so much real estate, plus a powerhouse economy, it is the size of a medium-sized nation. An incredible amount of personal wealth is passed down from generation to generation every year under the Texas Estates Code.

Qualifications for Contesting a Will

Not just anyone is qualified to contest a will in court (without this restriction, imagine the number of litigants that the court would have to deal with every time someone rich and famous died). To contest a will, you must meet the following preconditions:

  • You must be an interested party – that is, you must be someone who stands to personally gain or lose something tangible, depending on what happens during probate. Relatives and creditors of the deceased are typically considered interested parties.
  • You must intervene before the statute of limitations deadline expires – typically, two years after the will is submitted to probate, although the deadline could be earlier or later based on certain factors.
  • You must have legal grounds to contest the will (see below).
  • You should hire an estate attorney to represent you. Although this is not a legal requirement, success is likely to elude you without expert legal representation.

Grounds for Contesting a Will

Texas law requires that a valid will bear several necessary characteristics. Lack of any one of these characteristics will leave the will vulnerable to a will contest on one of the following grounds:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity: The testator did not understand enough about what he or she was doing to create a valid will (some terminally ill patients, for example).
  • Undue influence: Someone improperly influenced the testator, and he or she would not have signed the will if it hadn’t been for such influence.
  • Improperly executed printed will: The testator was too young to execute a will, the will was not in writing, or the will was not signed and properly witnessed.
  • Improperly executed handwritten (holographic) will: The will was not entirely in the testator’s handwriting, the testator was too young, or the testator did not properly sign the will with the necessary testamentary intent.
  • Fraud: The testator signed the will because he or she believed a deliberate misrepresentation that was presented by someone for the purpose of securing the signature.
  • The will has been revoked (the testator executed a later valid will or codicil).

What does a Successful Will Contest Entail?

If a will contest is successful, the court will disregard the will. The court will then have two options. Either dispose of the property on the basis of another valid will executed by the testator, or treat the estate as if the testator had died without a will, and distribute the estate property in accordance with Texas intestate succession laws.

Take Action by Contacting Our Experienced Houston Estate Planning Lawyers Today

If you are anticipating a will contest in the Houston, Texas metro area or in Harris County, or if you are looking for a way to avoid a will contest through advance planning, contact the will and estate planning attorneys at Romano & Sumner as soon as possible. Our Houston estate planning attorneys have the experience you need. We offer an initial consultation free of charge, during which we can gather information on your case, answer your questions, and discuss your strategic options.

You may get in touch with our Houston estate planning lawyers or contact our Houston estate planning attorneys either online or by phone. The clock is ticking – get started today!

 

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Romano & Sumner – Sugar Land, TX Attorneys

Romano & Sumner – Sugar Land, TX Attorneys
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