Contesting a Will in Texas after probate has been completed is possible, though not ideal. In the Lone Star State, there are several factors that can affect probate litigation, including will contests.
Contesting A Will Before Probate
If you need to contest a will, the ideal time to do so is before it has entered probate. Once the court receives an application to probate the will, there is a 2 week waiting period. During this waiting period, the burden to prove a will is valid lies with the executor of the will and the beneficiaries who are named in the will. If you challenge a will after this period, the burden of proof falls to you.
Complicating this is the fact that Texas allows a will to be submitted for probate up to 4 years after death, and only beneficiaries of the will must be notified that probate has begun. If you are not a beneficiary of the will, then you may not know when the process has begun.
Contesting A Will After Probate
After the waiting period, the first thing that happens during probate is a court hearing in which the will is found to be valid and an executor is appointed. From the time it is declared valid, challengers have 2 years to contest the will, with some exceptions.
Fraud: If you have cause to believe the will was faked or forged, you have 2 additional years to contest it after evidence of the fraud is found.
2nd Will: If another will is found and is dated after the document that was probated, you will have an additional 4 years after finding it to submit for probate. If the newly found will is dated before the will that was probated already, then the original 2-year statute of limitations still applies to contesting it.
Unknown Beneficiaries: Children of the deceased have up to 4 years for contesting a will after probate if they did not know during the probate time that they were entitled to an inheritance. This 2010 Texas Supreme Court ruling generally applies to children who were born outside of marriage or put up for adoption and did not know their biological parent until after probate closed.
Incapacitated Beneficiaries: If an heir was unable to contest the will as the result of incapacity, that heir has an additional 2 years after regaining the capacity to challenge it. For example, being a minor would be considered an incapacity because they are not legally able to file a lawsuit. Once a minor reached the age of 18, they would have 2 years to contest the will.
If you need help contesting a will in Texas, contact Keith Morris today for assistance.