Timeframe for Contesting a Will in Virginia

By Tom Streissguth

If you would like to contest a Virginia will, you must file your objections with the clerk of court where the will has been admitted to probate. State law sets out a statute of limitations for this procedure, which in some cases can be waived or extended. To comply with the law and carry out the process according to the rules of the court, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced estate or probate attorney.

Basic Requirements

Virginia law provides that individuals may contest a will as long as they have legal standing to do so, have valid reasons for their contest of the will, and file the necessary petitions and other paperwork within the statutory deadlines.

First Appeal

According to the Code of Virginia, Section 64.1-78, you may appeal an order admitting the will into probate within six months of the date the order is entered by the clerk of court. The order admitting the will officially enters the document into the record and begins the necessary proceedings to probate the will, or authorize its provisions through the court system.

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Hearing

When the appeal is filed, the clerk schedules a hearing for a date that is open on the court docket or calendar. Hearings on contested wills may be expedited by the clerk on request of the parties, or on the clerk’s own motion in order to avoid further delay in the probate procedure.

Petition to Impeach a Will

Under Virginia Code 64.1-88, if the court issues an order or a decree establishing a will, you have one year to petition the court to "impeach" or strike down the will, or establish an alternative will which you believe should replace the will admitted by the court. This petition is resolved by a jury trial.

Exceptions

If you are not served with a notice of the first order admitting the will into probate, if you are incapacitated or if you are a minor, the clerk may extend the legal deadlines. Virginia law provides that all beneficiaries and interested parties to the probate must be served personally with the order.

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