Only "interested persons" can contest a will.Interested Persons

The Texas Estates Code provides “interested Persons” the right to file a will contest. If a contestant is not an interested person, he cannot file a will contest. So who is an interested person? An interested person is an heir, devisee, spouse, creditor, or any other having a property right in or claim against an estate being administered and anyone interested in the welfare of an incapacitated person, including a minor. 22.018.

Paying Funeral Expenses

In a 2014 case decided by the Beaumont court of appeals involving an alleged common law wife of the decedent and the decedent’s father, the trial court dismissed the father’s claims ruling that he was not an interested party. The father appealed and alleged that he was a creditor because he had paid the funeral expenses of his son and was a person interested in the estate.

Having Custody of Grandson

Additionally, the father alleged that he had been awarded custody of his grandson (the child of the decedent and the alleged common law wife) who had been in his custody for a year. The father argued that he was an interested person because he had an interest in the welfare of the child. 09-13-00554-CV.

The trial court ruled against the father but the appeals court overturned the ruling. The appeals court held that the father was an interested person and could contest the inheritance proceedings.

Strange Ruling

The trial court’s ruling seems strange but one has to remember that the grandfather never claimed that he was an heir so he couldn’t be an interested person on that basis. Since the decedent had a son, the son would inherit the entire estate and would be the sole heir. If the wife proved a common law marriage, or what Texas refers to as an informal marriage, then she would also be an heir.  Finally, the son had been killed in an industrial accident and a personal injury lawsuit was pending. There was a potential for the estate to be substantial. Taking all of these facts into consideration, one has to assume that a large number of well qualified attorneys were representing both sides in this matter. When that happens, it is often difficult for the trial judge to make correct rulings that satisfy all parties.

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By Robert Ray a Board Certified attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. We handle litigation involving inheritance disputes. We don’t prepare wills. We don’t file wills for probate or distribute estates except when we are contesting a will or protecting a will from a contest. We handle a select few cases on contingency. Don’t use a comment to ask a personal question about an inheritance issue because your name and comment will be public. To ask a litigation question and to protect your privacy, click the red button to the right.