In Texas, only those who have “standing” can contest a will or estate. This means beneficiaries and heirs can contest a will, as well as any person or company that owns a portion of the property that is passing through probate.
Any gift that is going through probate can be disputed. The larger the gift, the more likely there will be a dispute. There are often disputes between children when one child is set to receive more than another child.
Gifts that are given during incapacity can especially create problems, as a lack of capacity is the most frequent claim made when allegations of fraud and involuntary gifting are asserted.
You also want to avoid gifting before death as an attempt to avoid probate. This can lead to the person receiving the gift paying a capital gains tax if the gifted property’s value has increased since you purchased it.
Wills and trusts all have to be witnessed by two neutral parties and signed in front of a notary. This is a way of letting the court know that the person signed the documents knowingly and willingly, and that they were of sound mind when they signed.
Generally, you can appeal a Texas probate court ruling. However, Texas probate decisions are not often as straightforward as in civil cases. There are many orders and judgements entered throughout probate proceedings that can be subject to an appeal. For example, you can appeal a statute that expressly provides that an order is a final, appealable order. You can also appeal the court ruling if an order disposes of all parties and issues in a particular phase of the proceedings.
Probate litigation can be avoided by using trusts. Trusts are an extremely powerful estate planning tool that can skip probate altogether, ultimately skipping any family disputes and keeping your heirs and assets private from creditors and predators.
If you are unsure of whether you would like to use a trust, there are other strategies that may be used, depending on your assets and estate planning goals!
To learn how you can avoid probate, it is best to schedule a complimentary strategy session with an experienced member of our estate planning team. Our team member will learn more about your assets, goals, and family members or other beneficiaries and will provide you with the best estate planning options for you. To schedule your complimentary strategy session, please schedule online here or give our office a call at (281) 218-0880.
Hegwood Law Group