A will must dispose of all property in all circumstances. If it doesn’t, the the laws of descent and distribution will determine who gets the property.
Heirship proceeding are different from will contest.
This article deals with getting property that is yours based on an inheritance. This may occur where a person dies without a will. It can also occur where there is a will but the will leaves property to the decedent’s “children” or his “heirs” or something similar. It may occur when there is a will but someone has taken your inheritance without your knowledge or when you didn’t know about your inheritance. This is different from a will contest where you are trying to prove your inheritance.
Let us say an heir finds out that a relative died some years back and that they may have some inheritance rights. What can they do? Is the statute of limitations a problem?
This situation may arise because a child was unborn or was an infant when the facts occurred. It may be that the child is illegitimate or only recently learned through DNA who their relatives were. It can also arise when other heirs, not just children, discover their potential inheritance.
If more than four years have passed, it may be difficult, but may not be impossible, to gain the inheritance that someone else has that should be the heirs. This is complicated, involving heirship proceedings (trial brief), but there is a possibility that it can be done.
Usually, the four-year statute of limitations comes in to play. Don’t get this limitation period confused with the two-year limitation period for contesting a will. This article deals with heirship and not with contesting wills. And if the facts are in your favor and the case is properly handled the four-year limitation problem may be avoided. In a recent case, the decedent died in 1972. Her heirs didn’t file any proceedings until 2013 when they filed a suit to get their inheritance. The statute of limitations was not a problem because of the facts and how the case was handled.