Can a Will be Contested After Probate?
After a person passes away, the family or loved ones file a petition with the court to probate the deceased’s estate. Probate is a process in which ownership of the deceased’s property and assets are transferred to the beneficiaries. There are some grounds for challenging a will in probate. These include such things as forgery and a claim that the person was not of sound mind when signing the will, among others. If you want to contest a loved one’s will, it is helpful to understand the probate process.
The Probate Process
The probate process starts by filing a probate application to the court. A hearing will be set after a two-week waiting period. Public notices are posted to inform people of the start of probate. As long as there are no protests to the action, the probate process will proceed. The court appoints an executor or administrator to oversee the estate.
The executor has various duties in relation to the distribution of the deceased’s estate as well as ensuring that the estate remains protected until distribution. The probate process can be complicated and it might be helpful to seek assistance from a qualified Texas probate attorney. The probate process can take some time, depending on the complexity of the issues.
Contesting a Will
Generally, the best time to contest a will is immediately once probate begins. However, there are some situations that would allow you to contest a will after probate. In general, Texas probate law allows a period of two years to contest a will. The two-year period begins at the time probate begins, once the court determines that a will is valid.
There are some exceptions that may allow an extension to contest a will beyond the two-year period.
- Forgery or Fraud: If the will was forged or is a fraud, you have two additional years to contest it. The additional two-year period begins at the time of discovery of the fraud or forgery.
- Second Will: If another will is located and it was created after the one that was probated, you will have four additional years to legally resolve the situation. If the newly found will was dated before the will that was probated, the original two-year limit applies.
- Unknown Beneficiaries: If there are beneficiaries who were unaware of the probate and are entitled to inheritance, they may generally contest the will up to four years after submission to probate. Unknown beneficiaries may be children who were born out of wedlock and did not know their biological parent until after the will was probated.
- Incapacitation: If a beneficiary was unable to contest the will during the two-year probate period because he or she was incapacitated, the law allows two years to contest it. The most notable incapacitation situation is a minor heir. A minor is considered incapacitated or unable to take legal action. Once a child reaches age 18, the law allows two years to contest a will.
Get Help From a Will and Probate Attorney
Contesting a will can be a difficult process. An experienced Texas will and probate attorney will answer your questions and assist you throughout the process. Contact our legal team at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. to discuss your case today 713-221-6800.