To be valid, a will in Texas must express the makers intent. Often, the makers intent is overridden by those who have influence over the maker given the makers advanced age, dependence on the person, or family or social circumstances. This undue influence can provide grounds to contest a will in Texas.
Influence becomes “undue” when it causes an individual to do something that they would not have done without the influence. When there is evidence of undue influence, interested persons can challenge the validity of the resulting will in court.
To prove undue influence, all of the following must be true:
The burden to prove the existence of undue influence falls on the persons contesting the will. It is often a difficult burden to prove.
There are a number of factors Texas courts consider when determining whether undue influence has occurred during the execution of a will, including the following:
Showing only that a person had the opportunity to exercise influence over the decedent; that the decedent was susceptible to influence; or the existence of an unnatural disposition is not sufficient to prove undue influence.
To be successful the persons bringing the will contest, the party must show that the influence overpowered the free will of the testator and, the will produced expresses the wishes of the person exerting the influence rather than the decedent’s wishes.
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