When it comes to drafting a will there are a lot of little details that you need to know but there is one big thing that you have already figured out. That big thing is that you are better off having the will than not having a will. This is true whether you are an older person with a lot of property to your name, a younger person with little to no property to your name, or some combination of the two. Either way, you need to be prepared for the end of life situations. Yes, it is uncomfortable to discuss subjects like this. No one likes to consider the end of their life. We spend a fair bit of our lives trying to prevent the end of our life. However, it is important for do you and your family to have a will.
I know some of you reading this blogpost may be thinking that you are relatively young and own relatively little. You may not even be married. Why would a young, single person without much property need to have a will? The answer to that question is that if you die without a will your family or next of kin has to handle all of the posts yeah scenarios involving your estate. So, while you may not have much property to your name if you have much debt then you will be in a position where your creditors may come looking for payment. The last thing you want is for a creditor to have to seek out representation and sue your estate for money. Having a will can give your family some authority to act on your behalf regarding creditors and your accounts with them.
Next, having a will can allow for your loved ones to more readily gain access to your home, apartment, and title documents to important assets like your vehicle in the event you pass away. Think about your loved ones trying to sell your car or close out a lease on your apartment after you pass away. Without a will or at least a power of attorney type document, they would not be able to do so. At this point, it should be fairly obvious that the drafting of a will isn’t so much for your benefit as it is for the benefit of those around you. Caring for your loved ones can be shown by your drafting a wheel.
The other thing that may be holding you up from drafting a will is the idea that drafting a will is expensive. You need to know that dropping the world does not have to be expensive. Drafting a will can be expensive relatively speaking if you have a complicated estate. For instance, if you are needing to set up complex plans for a disabled child, for example, then you may need to spend a great deal of time thinking about your options in terms of your will. However, if you have a more straightforward state plan to run through then the need for you to spend a great deal of time and money probably isn’t there.
Spend some time and money on an attorney to save time and money later
The subject of today’s blog post will be avoiding challenges to your will and what would make a will invalid in Texas. I will begin by saying that many of the mistakes that are common in wills drafting can be remedied simply by having an attorney. That’s right: if you have an attorney from the beginning of your case you can avoid many of the common mistakes that people make in drafting these documents on their own. Yes, some websites inform builders online where you can have your well-drafted poor you. All you would have to do is enter information and you could go from there. However, the problem with doing it this way is that not only are you not getting specifically tailored advice for your circumstances but you may be running into issues that you did not even know about. For that reason, I certainly recommend working with experienced probate in estate planning attorney from the beginning of your case forward.
Hiring an attorney does not have to be an extremely stressful experience. However, that does not mean that it won’t be something where you and your family won’t have to spend some time looking into the process. If you’ve never hired an attorney before you need to learn how to select an attorney out of the many lawyers in southeast Texas. Before we get into what makes a will invalid in Texas, I would like to help you learn a little bit about how to select the right attorney for your particular will.
First, you should look for an attorney who focuses their practice on the area of probate and estate planning. I think it is important for your attorney to have handled cases like yours and walked people like you through the process of drafting a will. That way he or she can use past experiences to guide you in your journey towards a future that is well protected. It is impossible to anticipate every single factor that may arise in your life that could affect and impact the drafting of a will. However, your attorney should be able to help you anticipate basic and complex factors that may arise for you. There is nothing wrong with an inexperienced attorney learning how to draft a will and guide a client like you. However, I’d not recommend that you be the person that he or she learns with.
Find an attorney who will offer you a free-of-charge consultation. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan offers free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. We have two office locations to better serve our community: One is located in Houston off of Cypress Creek Parkway and the other is located in the Humble/Atascocita/Kingwood area off Lake Houston Parkway. Whatever method you choose to meet with a lawyer, I’d recommend that you employ one of them to learn more about our lawyers and how we can help you in your will drafting.
The last thing I will mention is that an attorney may cost you some money now, but that lawyer will almost assuredly save you money down the line. If there is a mistake made in drafting your will, optimistically you will find out about the mistake before it is too late (before you pass away). In that case, you will need to go back and draft another will and correct the prior mistake that was made. This, again, will cost you time and money. Otherwise, your family will find out about the mistake after you pass away. This will eventually cost them time, money, and stress in that someone may attempt to challenge the validity of your will.
After you pass away, your family should have the opportunity to properly grieve your death. Spending time worrying about estate planning, probate, random relatives challenging your will and a host of other potential legal issues is not part of the proper grieving process- no matter how you and your family define grieving. With that said, today’s blog post is a great place for you to begin the information gathering process when it comes to learning what not to include in a will or how not to draft a will. However, remember the importance of having an attorney on your side during the drafting process and a lot of the worry regarding issues with the drafting of your will and its validity will no longer be warranted.
The hypothetical situation on challenging the validity of a will in Texas
Let’s suppose that your father has not been feeling well of the late period he is generally speaking been in poor health for some time and is now seemingly getting worse by the day. He is weak and limited in his ability to take care of himself. Not only that, his mental faculties seemed to be slipping at the same time. All in all, his condition is getting worse and you are not confident that he is going to be alive much longer. The trouble is that you live a couple of states away and were not able to make it to Texas to see your father before he eventually passed away.
Before your father passed away all you would hear from your brother about your father was that he was so weak he couldn’t even get up under his power. Even simple things like Holding a pen or a pencil seem to be beyond his capabilities. With that being said, you were shocked to find out that your stepmother was able to produce a will at a probate hearing for your father. Lo and behold, the will left all of Your father’s property to your stepmother. Not being the greedy type you were not offended by this but the way that the property was divided so much as you were the timeline of the will be created. While you had assumed your father was barely able to make it out of bed to go to the bathroom he had the wherewithal to draft an entire will.
When you finally had the time to come to Texas you found out that the wheel was handwritten by your stepmother. she explained that your father was so weak as to not be able to grip a pen or certainly draft a will. While you were aware of how your father’s condition was impacting him you had no idea about anything of the world. You step by their head neglected to mention that your father had wanted to draft a will and you were not consulted on any subject regarding what was contained in the world. This despite having had conversations with your father in the past about drafting a will and things of that nature. All in all, the circumstances surrounding the world’s existence seemed a bit fishy to you.
This would be a nightmare position to find yourself in for any son or daughter. You should also offer you some guidance on how to avoid having your own will challenge in the future. When you and your siblings got together to talk about my potential challenge to your father’s will. if you were to meet with one of the experienced family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan in this is likely something that you would hear one of our attorneys say as far as reasons why a well may be deemed invalid.
In general, there are a few different scenarios that may play out where a court would likely lick with some scrutiny on the creation of a will. Some of these are valid in the above situation we described to you involving your family while there’s may not be. However, you and your family could consider these scenarios when it comes to determining whether your father’s will was drafted under suspicious circumstances in the eyes of a judge.
First, any scenario where close family members are left out of the will while far-off relatives, friends, or recently married spouses are heavily favored would be looked at with some skepticism by a probate court judge. Here, we can see that your stepmother was favored over and above you and your brother. While your father has every right to do this the circumstances behind the drafting of the will and you’re being left out of the will are somewhat suspicious, to say the least. An abrupt change in your Fathers posture towards you and your will here’s an important part of why the will may be looked at with some skepticism by a probate court judge.
Next, since your father suddenly and abruptly changed his position regarding how but will be created and who or what was provided for in the will that is another warning flag for a possibly invalid will in the eyes of a family court judge. Now, if your father had talked about wanting to revise his will and exclude you and your brother from it for any various reason and there is evidence of this that can be presented in court by her stepmother you probably wouldn’t have as much of a leg to stand on in challenging the will for invalidity on this point. However, in these circumstances, it seems like the changing of the wheel was rather abrupt and not based on any wish that your father had before the end of his life.
Probably the most significant factor that would clue a judge into situations that would create an invalid well is if your father was of advanced age. In this case, we have already established that your father was in declining out for some time and was elderly. These are twin signs that an invalid will may have been created in your will challenge may be substantiated by the evidence and circumstances. Keep in mind that being elderly or disabled in and of itself does not cause a will to be declared invalid. However, I believe that these sorts of people find themselves more regularly in circumstances where they can be taken advantage of and manipulated in terms of having a world created that goes against their wishes.
Finally, if your father was displaying unusual behavior before his passing then this may be another sign that the world which was created is invalid. For instance, if your father was someone who shared every detail of his life with you but did not tell you that he was abruptly creating or changing his will close to the time of his death then this is evidence of unusual behavior for him. Bear in mind that if your father never shared details of his life with you in abruptly changed his will then the behavior evidence before his passing may be more or less like a continuation of his typical behavior. This specific person his will was created or changed at the end of their life and their behavior will be examined closely in this regard.
The key to this entire discussion is not to try and convince you that it is wrong to update your will. On the contrary, your will should be periodically reviewed and updated as circumstances change. These changes can be done up until the moment of death. However, the more abrupt the changes, the more suspicious the circumstances, the more family members are excluded from the will in favor of others and the less communication there is between the beneficiaries of a will and the testator of the will means that the likelihood that will is challenged at some point in court increases. In a case like that, no matter what side you find yourself on, you need an experience probate in estate planning attorney to guide you.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed probate and estate planning attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are great for you to learn more about the world of Texas probate and estate planning law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a probate case.
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The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with a Kingwood, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Kingwood TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.