Do All Heirs Have To Join A Will Contest?

In Rem Proceedings

Will Contest in Texas are in rem proceedings which means that notice to all the heirs is not required. It is up to each interested party to keep themselves apprised of the status of any probate case. Tennessee is also an in rem state as far as contesting a will is concerned.

Do All Heirs Have To Join A Will Contest in Texas?

A will contest may be brought by anyone interested party, and all other interested parties are free to join the contestant, join the proponent, or stand aloof. But, if they don’t join and there is a settlement agreement, they may be left out as stated by the Tennessee Supreme Court; and see E2016-02497-COA-R3-CV.. Those that join the will contest may settle and if they do so in good faith, the compromise of the will contest will not inure to the benefit of those heirs not participating. The heirs not involved in the suit may lose their inheritance unless they can show some form of bad faith by the parties to the suit. In 2017, a Pennsylvania Superior Court also held that an heir who did not participate in the will contest and was left out of a settlement agreement, could not do anything about it. The heir would have received his share if he had participated in the will contest but since he did not participate, he could not challenge the settlement that excluded him. 2620 EDA 2016.

What You Should Do

If someone you love has died and there is an inheritance dispute between the heirs, all heirs should participate in the proceeding. If an heir does not join, there is a chance that they will lose an inheritance that is rightfully theirs.

Pretermitted Spouse and Premarital Agreement

What is a pretermitted spouse

Texas does not recognize a pretermitted (forgotten) spouse so this article has no application to Texas. Some states do recognize a pretermitted spouse and I have written about those states here. Basically, a pretermitted spouse is someone who marries a person after that person has made a will. If the will is not revised and the parties are still married on the death of the one who made the will, the surviving or pretermitted spouse will take a portion of the estate even though they are not mentioned in the will.

Pretermitted Spouse and Premarital Agreement

In a 2014 case from California, which does recognize a pretermitted spouse, the court was asked to determine if a premarital (more…)

Agreement Not To Contest A Will

Agreement not to contest a will.Background

Although this blog is only about Texas law, a recent case out of Delaware dealt with an unusual issue and the results should be the same in Texas if the issue ever comes up. The Delaware court in 2015 was asked to decide if an agreement not to contest a will would support a suit for damages. The facts recited in the opinion are set out as follows: “In his complaint, Paul alleges that their mother had wanted to renounce the 2004 Will and create a new will leaving Paul the family home and 50 percent of her remaining estate; however, she was prevented by Charles from doing so. After their mother’s death, Paul confronted Charles about his actions, and Charles agreed to honor their mother’s wishes and share her estate with Paul in exchange for Paul’s agreement not to contest the 2004 Will.”


When Charles breached the agreement, Paul filed a breach of contract suit against Charles for damages. Charles asked the court to dismiss Paul’s suit because the alleged contract between Paul and Charles was (more…)

Is it dangerous to be an heir?

It can be depending on the mental status of other heirs. Some will contest can get out of hand. As one person put it, you really never know a person until you share an inheritance with them. The Houston Chronicle posted an article about an inheritance dispute involving a brother who sent a bomb to a sister then tried to hire a hit man to kill both of his sisters. The inheritance dispute arose over a two million dollar estate.

According to the article, the sisters had been contesting the will or the distribution of the estate because the bother had been dumping environmentally damaging materials on land belonging to the estate. The sisters had to spend thousands of dollars to clean it up. They asked the court to award them more of the estate because of what the brother had done. A mediator agreed. After he learned of the ruling, the brother, Clair Wolf, allegedly tried to hire an inmate to carry out the murder. He was serving a 29 year sentence in prison on the illegal dumping charge at the time.

Copyright by Robert Ray a Texas inheritance attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. If you are concerned about inheritance laws, inheritance rights, have a family inheritance dispute, a property dispute or want information about contesting a will and need an inheritance lawyer, we can help. Please go to our main site and use the contact form to contact us today. We are Texas inheritance lawyers and would love to learn about your case and there is no fee for the initial consultation.

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