How Do I Defend a Will Contest?


There are numerous aspects involved in the probate process. One of the most frustrating aspects you might encounter is having to defend a Will contest. In this blog, we explain what the executor of an estate must do when they are served with a Verified Complaint that challenges the validity of a Last Will and Testament.

A Will contest is usually initiated by a Verified Complaint filed by the contestant who wants to prove that the Last Will and Testament is invalid. A Will contest has to be filed within a specific statutory period. After receiving the Verified Complaint, the executor will need to take several actions to formally to respond to the notice.

Step #1: Contact an Attorney

The first thing an executor of a Will needs to do is contact the lawyer who drafted the Last Will and Testament for the decedent. The decedent’s attorney is a critical witness that will be crucial to the defense against the plaintiff’s challenge. Although the decedent’s attorney is involved in the defense of the Will, the estate will need another attorney to represent their interests. This is because the decedent’s attorney is also a witness in the case.

Step #2: File an Answer to the Verified Complaint

After the executor finds legal representation to defend the will, the next step that needs to be taken is to file a response to the Verified Complaint. Once the response has been filed, the executor and their attorney will need to track down any witnesses who have relevant knowledge regarding the decedent’s health and mental condition at the time that the Last Will and Testament was signed.

Potential witnesses that can be used to very a Will include:

  • Treating physicians
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Other people who observed the decedent at the time the Will was executed

Witness information is crucial for the defense strategy, which is why the executor should begin organizing witness statements at an early juncture in the litigation.

Step #3: Gather Estate Documents

The next step after finding witnesses is to obtain documents with information about the estate. The attorney can assist the executor with tracking down accounting records and other financial documents

The main issues that lead a party to contest a Will are usually undue influence and lack of capacity. Both of these actions require testimony from witnesses and medical records. Expert testimony from medical doctors and nurses can be used to attest the capacity of the decedent when their Last Will and Testament was executed.

Do you need help with the probate process or your other estate planning needs? Call (972) 330-4050 to schedule your free 30-minute consultation with our legal team in Irving, Texas.

Share To: