How Long After a Will Is Settled Do You Have to Contest?

By Teo Spengler

If a loved one dies and the will provisions shock you, a will contest is one option of challenging the document. But the fact that the will seems inequitable to you is not enough. To successfully contest, you need to establish appropriate grounds and act within the limitations period in your jurisdiction.

If a loved one dies and the will provisions shock you, a will contest is one option of challenging the document. But the fact that the will seems inequitable to you is not enough. To successfully contest, you need to establish appropriate grounds and act within the limitations period in your jurisdiction.

Grounds to Contest

In the United States, a person is generally free to name anyone as beneficiary under her will. No laws require that a spouse or children inherit. On the other hand, you can contest the will, if it was not signed before the required number of witnesses, if the testator was incompetent when she made it, or if it was made as a result of undue influence or fraud.

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Time to Contest

States set up time limits for bringing actions in court, termed statutes of limitations. The statute of limitations for bringing a will contest varies among the states. In Pennsylvania, for example, you have at most one year from the date the probate court officially appoints an executor, but the court also has discretion to set a shorter period. In Texas, you have two years to bring the contest and the time begins to run when the will is admitted to probate. In some cases, the limitations period may be waived in case of fraud or improper notice.

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Can You Contest a Will After Probate?

References

Related articles

How to Contest a Will in Missouri

Your will leaves instructions for your loved ones regarding how you want your property distributed, and your loved ones might willingly follow your instructions to the letter. Sometimes, however, family and friends may dispute, or contest, terms of your will. Missouri allows certain persons to contest a will even if it appears valid, but you can take steps to discourage will contests.

The Time Limit for Contesting a Will

Wills are powerful legal documents in which the estate of a deceased person is divided between his beneficiaries. Because the deceased is no longer around to distribute the assets himself, his wishes are carried out by an executor. In order to ensure as smooth a process as possible, the states provide a time limit for contesting the will, and generally does not consider challenges outside of this period.

How Long Do I Have to Contest a Will in Texas?

Texas has six deadlines for contesting a will depending on the circumstances of the case, but things can be complicated by the fact that next of kin or the executor have four years from the testator’s date of death to submit his will for probate. Texas law requires that only named beneficiaries be given notice that a will is in probate. Heirs who are not mentioned in the will do not have to be notified and may not even know that the process has begun.

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