Once a will has entered probate, a beneficiary may file a will contest if he believes the will is not valid. Most probate courts, including those in Virginia, set a limited period of time for filing a will contest. How long someone has to contest a will in Virginia depends on his age and citizenship.
Virginia Will Contests
In Virginia, a will contest begins when an interested person files a Bill to Impeach or Establish a Will, according to the Code of Virginia. An interested party is someone who has a stake in the case: he has something to gain or lose depending on whether the will is valid or invalid. The Code of Virginia requires a Bill to Impeach or Establish a Will be filed within one year of when the will was admitted to the court for probate.
Non-Residents of Virginia
The Code of Virginia provides exceptions to the one-year filing requirement for certain categories of beneficiaries. The first is the category of adult beneficiaries who do not live in the state of Virginia. These beneficiaries receive an extra year in which to file a Bill to Impeach or Establish a Will with the probate court. The extra year is designed to give these beneficiaries time to find out about probate, make travel plans, and consult a lawyer who practices estate law in Virginia if needed.
Persons under the age of 18 are not legal adults in Virginia. However, a will may leave them some or all of the deceased person's property, even if they are not legal adults. A child of a deceased person may also be left out of the will in Virginia, whether unintentionally or deliberately. The Code of Virginia protects the right of minors to contest a will by giving them one year after they turn 18 years old to file a will contest, even if they are quite young when the will is probated.
People who lack the mental capacity to bring a will challenge are also given a special time period in which to file a will contest in Virginia. The Code of Virginia permits anyone of "unsound mind" to bring a will contest by filing a Bill to Impeach or Establish a Will within one year of when he regains his mental capacity to present a court case, regardless of when the will was probated.