Articles Posted in Will Contest

Individuals who are considering drafting a will should consult with a Houston attorney to ensure that their document is legally binding and effectively communicates their wishes. Wills provide representatives and loved ones with crucial guidance on how to name executors, appoint guardians for children and pets, and distribute property after someone dies. Many people fail to create wills or attempt to draft these documents themselves; however, doing so can lead to many issues and conflicts. You should contact an experienced Houston area estate planning attorney to ensure that your final wishes are properly executed.

Each state has specific requirements that a will must comply with to be legally binding. In Texas, wills are valid if the testator is at least 18-years-old, of sound mind, and there were at least two credible witnesses present at the signing. In cases where the will is oral, there must be three credible witnesses. Many Texans believe that drafting a will is sufficient to make it legally binding; however, there are often additional documents and notary signatures that must be executed. Some documents include, but are not limited to, healthcare power of attorney designations, financial power of attorney designations, and disposition of remains and property directives.

Individuals who chose to write their own wills often fail to meet all of the requirements that make a will binding. Wills should include the appropriate language, correct signatures, and account for any property or possessions that people may fight over. Although, do-it-yourself and handwritten wills might be valid, they often create challenges for loved ones as the will passes through probate court.

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With COVID-19 impacting more and more Americans, individuals across the country are scrambling to set up wills and end-of-life directives.

Over the last two weeks, online will companies have seen an explosion in users, according to the article, “Coronavirus Pandemic Triggers Rush by Americans to Make Online Wills,” published by CNBC.com.

However, as online wills grow in popularity, Houston estate and elder lawyers increasingly caution against using them, for several reasons.

2.17.20A will and a trust are separate legal documents that typically share a common goal of facilitating a unified estate plan. While these two items ideally work in tandem, since they are separate documents, they sometimes run in conflict with one another–either accidentally or intentionally.

A revocable trust, commonly called a living trust, is created during the lifetime of the grantor. This type of trust can be changed at any time, while the grantor is still alive. Because revocable trusts become operative before the will takes effect at death, the trust takes priority over the will, if there is any discrepancy between the two when it comes to assets titled in the name of the trust or that designate the trust as the beneficiary (e.g., life insurance).

A recent Investopedia article asks “What Happens When a Will and a Revocable Trust Conflict?” The article explains that a trust is a separate entity from an individual. When the grantor or creator of a revocable trust dies, the assets in the trust are not part of the decedent grantor's probate process.

10.30.19Contesting a will is not for the faint of heart, but this is the process that lets a person legally challenge a will.

When there’s a will, there’s a way to challenge it, known as a “will contest.” If someone dies and they had a will, their estate goes through the probate process. The probate court is the jurisdiction for challenging a will.

Understanding how this works is important, if you’ve been named as a beneficiary of an estate or you’re concerned that your own will may one day be contested.

9.13.19“By the time Groucho was an old man, however, he experienced significant problems in his daily activities, medical decision-making and the management of his estate. He suffered from elements of dementia, a heart attack and congestive heart failure, falls resulting in a broken hip, and after that hip was repaired, another fall and broken hip, urinary tract infections, strokes and hypertension.”

Julius Henry Marx, better known as Groucho, died 42 years ago on Aug. 19, 1977, at age 86. Groucho teamed with three of his four brothers—Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo—to become stars of vaudeville, Broadway, film, radio and television. (A fifth brother, Gummo, wasn’t part of the act).

PBS News Hours’ recent article, “How Groucho Marx fell prey to elder abuse” reports that the legal battles over Groucho’s money and possessions went on long after he died. The unrest of his last few years is familiar to adult children concerned with the well-being of their elderly parents.

7.25.19The fight over Conrad Prebys’ $1 billion estate continues, three years after the San Diego developer and philanthropist died.

When the directors of the Conrad Prebys Foundation decided to give his son Eric $15 million, despite the fact that his father had left him out of the will, Preby’s longtime partner tried to sue them.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in the article “Court fight continues over control of $1 billion Prebys estate,” that in January, a San Diego Superior Court judge dismissed Debra Turner’s suit, holding that she had no legal standing to bring it. She then filed an amended complaint. However, the judge recently dismissed her lawsuit.

This bizarre story of an estate battle concerns a man who wanted to be driven to local pubs, a taxi driver and the passenger’s significant other.

A legal bill for an unusual estate battle must be now paid by a cabbie who had inherited a regular fare’s entire estate. The will was challenged by the man’s partner, who had been his heir, before the will was changed (over a pint in a pub) to favor the cabbie.

The New York Post’s recent article, “Cab driver slapped with massive legal fees after inheriting passenger’s estate,” explains that the bizarre story began years ago when British taxi driver Dean Hughes agreed to transport 348-pound Gary Mendez to various pubs. Many other cabbies refused to take him, because of his size.

7.16.19There were a lot of headlines after Kenny Goss and Michael’s former lover Fadi Fawaz were cut out of the late singer’s will.  Fawaz is now reported to be planning to contest the will.

Most of the late George Michael’s £98 million estate will be shared by his sisters Yioda and Melanie. There were also provisions made in the will for his father Kyriacos, as well as for his close friends and former members of his staff.

“George was devoted to his dad and sisters, they were always going to be looked after,” a source told The Sun.

9.6.18She says her father was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and that’s why he cut her out of the will. However, she also hadn’t seen or spoken to him for more than two decades.

There’s a big estate battle brewing in Britain, where the 61-year-old daughter of Reg Grundy, Kim Robin Grundy, is challenging her father’s second wife with a will contest. Kim, who goes by the name Viola La Valette, is after part of her father’s $900 million estate. The fact that she refused to see him, even while he was supporting her, is not making her a popular figure.

Starts at 60’s article, “Reg Grundy’s daughter says he had Alzheimer’s when he cut her from will,” says that the TV tycoon, who was responsible for Australian shows like Neighbours and Wheel of Fortune, died in May 2016 at the age of 92. He left the majority of his estate to his wife.

9.4.18The wishes of former Wham! singer George Michael are bring carried out, just a few months shy of the two-year anniversary of his death.

Among the information being shared by Andros Georgiou, a cousin of George Michael, is that all of the organizations and individuals who were mentioned in the late singer’s will have been contacted. However, that wasn’t the only news from Andros.

MSN reports, in the article “George Michael's lover is challenging his will after being left nothing, says cousin,” that Andros told the British newspaper, The Sun, that George Michael didn’t leave anything to Fadi Fawaz, who was George’s on-again, off-again partner since 2012. Fawaz also was the one who found Michael dead in bed in his home in the English village of Goring in Oxfordshire on Christmas Day 2016.

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