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Interesting Developments In Inheritance Laws

My practice is limited to trials involving inheritance disputes including will contest, related property disputes and associated torts. To ask privately about a Texas litigation issue involving an inheritance dispute, click the big red button to go to our main site's contact page and ask a question privately.

Can beneficiaries agree not to be bound by a will?

The quick answer is yes, they can.

Texas recognizes what are called “family settlement agreements.”  A family settlement agreement will be enforced by a court even if the distribution of the assets under the agreement differ from the distribution of the assets under the will.  A family settlement agreement is an alternative method of administration in Texas that is a favorite of the law.

To be enforceable, the family settlement agreement must:

  1. be agreed to by all of the heirs and beneficiaries;
  2. provide that a purported will shall not be probated; and,
  3. provide for a plan of distribution of the estate to replace the one in the will.

Family settlement agreements may come about when the will does not treat the testator’s children equally but all of the children want to split the estate equally.  This happens when a parent and a child are estranged at the time of the execution of the will.  The family may want most of the estate to go to a less fortunate sibling who is not doing as well financially as the others.  There may also be tax reasons to enter into a family settlement agreement.

Family settlement agreements may also be used to settle will contest cases.

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We handle litigation involving inheritance disputes. We don't prepare wills. 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.


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