How Long Do I Have to Contest a Will?
The matter of contesting wills is rather complicated, and depends upon a number of factors. The statute of limitations in Texas varies with the nature of the will contest. Your Bryan probate attorneys can help you if you are having a difficult time disputing a will, but the following provides you with the basic statutes of limitations.
Six Deadlines for Contesting a Will
The state has in place six separate statutes of limitations for contesting a will. It should be noted that the times given can be affected by the fact that the executor has up to four years after the death of the testator to submit the will to probate court. Moreover, only named beneficiaries need to be notified that the will is in probate, so if others who feel they should be heirs are not notified, the time for contesting the will can be affected.
- Before Probate Begins: The optimal time for contesting a will is before the probate process begins. This is because at this point the executor and beneficiaries have the burden of proof that the will is valid and is the last will and testament. When probate court receives a will and application to probate it, a two week waiting period is required before the probate hearing can take place. During the hearing the court opens probate, after which it may be more difficult to challenge a will.
- Once Probate Opens: You have two years during which to contest the will once probate is started, with certain exceptions as noted below.
- A Second Will Is Found: On occasion a will may be found that was written after the will that is in probate. In such a case you have four years in which to submit it for probate.
- Beneficiaries Are Discovered Who Were Unaware of the Proceeding: As of 2010 Texas law permits children of the testator who are not made aware they are entitled to a portion of the estate up to four years to challenge the will and claim part of the inheritance. Generally children who were born outside of marriage or were placed up for adoption are affected by this rule.
- If the Will Is Believed to be A Forgery: If you find evidence that a will is forged, you have two years to prove this.
- Heirs Who Are Incapacitated: If an heir is a minor or is incapacitated, they have two additional years to challenge a will. In the case of minors, they have two years from the date that they reach majority status.
For Assistance with a Contested Will
If you have reason to believe that a will should be contested, it is a good idea to work with Bryan probate attorneys who understand the complications of these statutes of limitations. Call Peterson Law Group today at 979-703-7014 or 936-337-4681.