Estate Planning & Probate Specialists

Estate Planning & Probate Specialists

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What can spur a judge to modify or reform Texas wills?

A Texan who crafts a will does so to ensure that the assets and anything else he or she owns will go to the designated heirs. Regardless of the intent and the comprehensive nature of the document, legal issues can often arise with wills and other estate planning devices. In some cases, this will necessitate judicial intervention. Understanding when the law dictates that there can be judicial modification or reformation of a will is important when the legal issues are such that it must be done to make certain the document achieves its desired ends. As always, legal assistance with handling estate complexities is a must.

A will can be modified or reformed if a personal representative files a petition for it so the following can take place: the court can order the modification or reformation; acts that were prohibited or were not authorized in the terms of the will; or the personal representative can be prevented from performing acts that the will prohibits.

The following circumstances must be in place for the court to allow it: it is necessary or appropriate to modify certain terms if it will stop impairment or waste with administration of the estate; it is necessary or appropriate so the tax responsibilities and protections the testator sought will be achieved or so the entity receiving the estate can get government benefits and it does not contradict the intent of the testator; or if it is needed to fix an error made by the scrivener (for example, a notary) when the terms of the will were recorded so that it will fit in with the intent of the testator. To have the will modified or reformed, the petition must be filed prior to or on the fourth anniversary of when the will went to probate.

When a person creates a will, the goal is to provide the heirs with the property as intended. However, there are certain instances in which it is necessary for there to be judicial intervention to modify or reform the will so it conforms with the law and the testator’s intent. If there is a concern about factors that justify modification or reformation, having legal assistance from a law firm skilled at estate administration is the first step in the process.