Can my siblings choose to ignore a Will?

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Can my siblings choose to ignore a Will?

My mother is dying. My brother, myself and my sisters have cared for her. There is a Will but my

siblings feel that my brother is entitled to her house despite the will specifing all assets to be divided among all of us. Can they do this? I have requested they give me a copy of her Will to no avail.

Asked on June 16, 2017 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, they may not: the will legally controls the distribution of assets after the testator (person making the will) passes away. If they refuse to abide by its terms, you can file a legal action in chancery court (a division or part of county court) against your mother's estate and them, to enforce the terms of the will. During the lawsuit, you can also use the legal process or mechanism of "discovery" (e.g. document production requests; written interrogatories or questions; depositions, as necessary) to get a copy of the will. Assuming the will was properly signed and witnessed, the court will enforce its terms. Actions like this can be significantly more complex than the, say, the typical small claims action; you are strongly encouraged to retain a probate attorney to help you. (A lawyer will also help to act as a "buffer" between you and your siblings.) Obviously, you cannot file a lawsuit until after your mother passes--before the person who made the will dies, the will is simply a theoretical document (e.g. she could change or revoke it before she passes) and is not enforceable.


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