Right after a Houston resident has lost a loved one, they inevitably go through a period of mourning in which they remember the good times they shared with the deceased. The last thing they need to find out at that time is that they have either been left out of a will or that the decedent died without a will. If someone finds out they have been left out of a will, what should they do?
It is important to remember that, though this is unfortunate, it is quite common. Individuals forget to update their wills as important life changes take place, which means heirs and beneficiaries are not changed after someone dies, has a child or gets divorced. As a result, legal disputes ensue with left out individuals challenging a will.
Not everyone can challenge a will, though. There are certain legal requirements regarding who is eligible to do so. But there are certain issues to keep in mind before embarking on this legal journey, including the fact that lawsuits are an emotional rollercoaster. Fighting with one's siblings or family members right after a loved one has died can reopen old wounds and won't necessary provide the closure one assumes it will.
As difficult as it may seem, keeping emotions out of the settlement is better for everyone. And most cases do settle. After probate litigation begins and legal representatives begin the discovery process, they discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the cases with the litigator. At this point, individuals may want to simply discuss the matter amongst themselves and come to an agreement and spare one another the pain and expense of a legal battle.
Challenging a will is not an easy matter and can be emotionally draining. While this should also serve as a warning to Texas readers to regularly update their will, those who believe they have been left out of a family member's will should consider consulting an experienced attorney and discussing their options.