WillI be able to contest a step-daughter and a step-grandaughter receiving a portion of my father’s estate?

I am my father’s only living blood child; the only one left to pass on the family name. He told me today he will be writing his Will to be given 1/3rd to me, 1/3rd to my stepsister, and 1/3rd to my stepsister’s daughter. Will I be able to contest either of their portion of the estate? Also, he is still married to my stepmother; if he were to die first what would happen? Family heirlooms are in question; he stated he would be leaving my stepmother and her children my family’s heirlooms.

Asked on September 17, 2011 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First of all, a bloodline is only relevant in a situation where someone dies "intestate (i.e. without a Will). In that case the deceased's estate  passes to the next of kin. However, since your father has a Will, "intestacy" law is inapplicable.

The fact is that a person is under no legal obligation to leave their entire estate to their biological children. Quite the contrary, a person may actually disinherit a child. A "testator" (i.e. the maker of a Will) can leave their estate to just about anybody that they wish. As long as they are of sound mind and have had no undue influence or the like placed on them, they can freely "bequeath" (i.e. gift) their assets as the see fit. The standard used to "contest" (i.e. fight) a Will is quite high and difficult to meet.

If your father pre-deceases your step-mother she will take as provided for in your father's Will. If that is below the legally set minimum in your state, she has certain rights to inherit pursuant to the community property laws of TX.


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