Inheritance written on moneyIn our last post, we discussed the spousal rights that can increase the share of a surviving spouse, potentially at the expense of the persons otherwise entitled to receive the deceased spouse’s estate. We now conclude this series with some of the most important points to remember about Texas Inheritance Disputes.

To recap, this series addressed the following topics:

  1. Overview – Understanding Inheritance Disputes in Dallas and Other Texas Areas
  2. Reasons to Dispute the Wills of Deceased Persons Who Lived in Texas
  3. Next Steps When Someone Presents an Invalid Will to a Texas Court
  4. You May Prevent Texas Creditors from Taking Your Inheritance in Dallas and other Texas Cities
  5. Community Property and Other Texas Spousal Rights May Impact Your Inheritance
  6. Series Recap—Important Takeaways for Inheritance Disputes in Dallas and Other Texas Areas

We recommend that you revisit those articles for a more complete understanding of Texas inheritance disputes. The below points will summarize and highlight some of the more significant takeaways in this series.

The Most Common Grounds for Disputing an Invalid Will Are Lack of Capacity and Undue Influence – Many people assume that forgery is the most common grounds for a will contest. In reality, forgery cases are quite uncommon. Instead, lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence are the most common defects of invalid wills. Testamentary capacity claims, in their simplest form, ask whether the deceased person was in their right mind when they signed the will. Undue influence claims, in essence, ask whether someone other than the deceased person was responsible the will.

Be Proactive If You Suspect Someone Is Lurking with an Invalid Will – The person holding an invalid will likely intends to secretly file a probate case and obtain a court order saying the will is valid. You are not entitled to specific notice the court case was filed, but in larger Texas counties, anyone can search the court’s website to see if the case was filed, and you can always call the court clerks and directly ask them the same. If you find out a case was filed, get a probate lawyer on the phone immediately, and be sure to ask about no-contest clauses.

Think Twice Before Paying a Deceased Person’s Debt – Generally, the creditors of a deceased person cannot seek repayment from the deceased person’s heirs or beneficiaries. The probate claims process can cancel the deceased person’s debt entirely. Think twice before paying the deceased person’s outstanding credit card bills and ask a probate lawyer if the probate claims process can help preserve your inheritance.

Surviving Spouses Are Never Left Empty Handed – Community property rules may drastically alter the inheritance you assumed you would receive. Usually, community property rules benefit the surviving spouse but can sometimes increase the share of the other people entitled to inherit an estate. On the other hand, there are several spousal rights that always benefit the surviving spouse, if the surviving spouse can prove the need and applicability.

And with that, our series on Texas inheritance disputes concludes. If you have questions about the material here, your rights in a potential inheritance dispute, and any other probate question, please contact us. Our attorneys have experience in probate courts throughout the state, including in Dallas, Harris, Travis, Bexar, Denton, Collin, Ellis, Montgomery, Midland, and El Paso Counties.