What Is the Statute of Limitations on Will Contests?

By Marie Murdock

As a child, relative or heir of a deceased person, you may be concerned that the will of the decedent was fraudulently executed. The signature may appear wrong, the decedent may have been suffering from dementia at the time of the signing of the will, or the will may have left a substantial sum to a paid caregiver such that you feel the will was signed under duress or intimidation. Under these circumstances, you may question the validity of the will in court by filing a will contest action. The time limit to file a will contest varies from state to state.

As a child, relative or heir of a deceased person, you may be concerned that the will of the decedent was fraudulently executed. The signature may appear wrong, the decedent may have been suffering from dementia at the time of the signing of the will, or the will may have left a substantial sum to a paid caregiver such that you feel the will was signed under duress or intimidation. Under these circumstances, you may question the validity of the will in court by filing a will contest action. The time limit to file a will contest varies from state to state.

Alabama

In Alabama, if you are an heir or devisee who would have a valid interest in the estate of a deceased, you may file a will contest action in probate court any time after the will has been presented to the probate judge for filing but prior to the judge signing the order admitting it to probate. Once the will has been admitted to probate by order entered by the judge, you will generally only have six months in which to contest the will. The six-month time period may be extended to twelve months from the date of the appointment of a guardian-ad-litem for minors or mentally incapacitated persons who were not originally represented in the probate or from the date of the removal of their incapacity or disability.

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Texas

In Texas, you may only contest a will for up to two years after it is admitted to probate. If fraud can be proven, however, the time frame changes to two years after discovery of the fraudulent act. Also, a minor or incapacitated person will have two years after they either reach the age of majority or regain capacity in which to contest a will in Texas.

Michigan

In Michigan, there is no time limit to contest a will provided it was admitted through an informal probate proceeding. Most wills are admitted through the informal probate process, provided complex matters don’t require a formal probate. In a formal probate proceeding, however, you are required to contest the will within 21 days from its admission.

Other States

Washington has a very strict statute of limitations requiring that you contest the will within four months after its being admitted to probate. The courts will not extend this time frame even if fraud can be proven. In Florida, you only have 90 days from the date of receipt of the notice of administration after admission of the will to contest. If, however, a will has not yet been admitted to probate and a formal notice of administration is received, the time period is shortened to 20 days. Consult with an estate attorney in the state where the probate is taking place to ensure that your will contest action is filed timely.

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How Long Does a Person Have to Contest a Will?

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Related articles

Can You Contest a Will After Probate?

The probate process officially recognizes the will as valid. It also allows the executor to follow the will's instructions under the supervision of the probate court. When probate begins, so does the window of time in which beneficiaries can contest a will. Once probate is over, the estate no longer exists and the will cannot be challenged.

Can Wills Be Contested?

Wills can be contested, but the process is subject to complex laws that vary from state to state. If you believe you have cause to contest a will, immediately contact an attorney to learn the rules for doing so where you live. The burden is on the person contesting the will to prove that it should be set aside, so will contests are not typically easy to win.

What's the Statute of Limitations for Contesting a Will in Georgia?

Georgia does not limit will challenges to beneficiaries and heirs. Those who are financially harmed by the will or who might potentially benefit from it can contest it as long as they have legal grounds, such as proof that the testator was not mentally competent, that some procedural deficiency occurred in the making of it, or it is a forgery or fraud. Two statutes of limitation exist.

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