Texas Statute of Limitations or Probate Limits to Challenge a Will.

Texas Statute of Limitations or Probate Limits to Challenge a Will.

Two Years

What Are Time Limits to Contest a Texas Will

In Texas, the probate limits or the time limits for challenging a will, what the law refers to as the statute of limitations, is complicated.  It is complicated because the Texas probate time limits for contesting a will center around the date that the will is admitted to probate, not the date of death of the testator.  See the article on the probate process to become familiar with how a will is probated and to learn what “admitted to probate” means.

Contest A Texas Will Before Or After The Will Is Admitted To Probate

You can oppose a Texas will filed for probate before or after it is admitted to probate. There are benefits to challenging the will before it is admitted to probate. However, you can contest the will even after it is admitted to probate if you file the will contest before the statute of limitations or probate limits run out. You can challenge a Texas will on several grounds. I have written on the reasons for contesting a will here and here.

Contesting a Will in TexasTime Limits
You know you are an heir2 years from date will admitted to probate
Minor2 years from date of majority
FraudNo limit but you must act reasonably quickly after discovery of fraud

Two Year Rule

The basic rule in Texas is that a person has two years from the date a will is admitted to probate to contest it.  That seems simple enough, but the probate limits are not so simple.  For instance, the proponent of the Texas will has four years after the death of the testator to file the will for probate.  If the proponent files the Texas will just before the four years is up, the contestant will have two years after that to contest the will (six years after the death of the testator!)  To complicate matters even more, a person who is not at fault can file a will more than four years after the death of the testator.  “Not at fault” usually means that the person who files the Texas will for probate after four years did not know about the will during the four years after the testator’s death but found it later.  If a person knows about the will and just doesn’t file it, he is usually at fault and can’t file it after four years elapse.  As with all rules, there are exceptions.  If the person knew about the will but was told by his lawyer that he didn’t need to file it, he may not be at fault and may be able to file the will after four years.  In any event, the contestant can challenge the will within two years of the date that it was admitted to probate whenever that date is. Probate limits in Texas are complicated!


Minors have two years from the time they reach their majority to file a will contest in Texas. Probate limits in Texas are complicated! There is a 2018 case where the children were minors when their father died. The Administrator of the estate, took all of the money and didn’t tell anyone. When each child turned 18, the Administrator gave them a check for around $25,000. The estate was worth over $250,000. The children had all been raised in foster care and were unaware of their rights. More than four years later, the children finally hired an attorney and sued the Administrator. The Administrator said he had destroyed all the records and didn’t remember what was in the estate. The Administrator asked the court to dismiss the claim because of the statute of limitations. The court did dismiss the claims. The dismissal was upheld by the court of appeals. So remember, time matters! 571/324.

Earlier Will

If a person finds a will dated earlier than the will that is filed for probate and thinks that the earlier will is the true last will of the testator, he has two years from the date that the later will was admitted to probate to file the earlier will for probate.  This operates as a contest of the latter will.  If a person finds a later will than the one admitted to probate, he has four years after the death of the testator to file the will for probate.  Filing a later will executed after the earlier will that has been admitted to probate may not be considered a “contest” and may not be governed by the Texas two-year statute of limitation for will contest.  The latter will can be filed within four years of the testator’s death or later if the person filing the will is not at fault. Probate limits in Texas are complicated! (Compare 322 S.W.3d 361 with 577 S.W.2d 748.)

As stated above, the statute of limitations is complicated. If you are concerned about the time, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Burden of Proof

If a will is opposed before it is admitted to probate in Texas, the proponent of the will must prove that it is a good will, executed with the formalities required by law, at a time when the testator was competent and that it has never been revoked.  After the will has been admitted to probate in Texas, the contestant has the burden to show that the will is not good, that it was not executed with the formalities required by law, that the testator was not competent or that the will has been revoked.

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Robert Ray is the Editor and owner of this site. Board Certified, Personal Injury Trial Law — Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

We handle cases throughout Texas. Our principal office is in Lantana, Texas (DFW area).

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Do You Legally Know What Your Attorney Knows?


An attorney is an agent for the person (principal) that he represents. Agency law imputes the knowledge of the agent to the principal. If an agent knows something, the law says that the principal knows it as well.


An interesting case out of Ohio had the question of do you legally know what your attorney knows come up in relation to a will contest. In Ohio, (more…)

England Seeing Increase in Will Contest

Increase in Will ContestEngland seeing an increase in will contest, why?

For the same reasons Texas is seeing an increase in will contest. I have previously written on why contesting a will has become more common. You can view that article here. An English law firm, Soosmiths, has an article on their website that discusses the Ministry of Justice statements on the causes of the increase in such cases in England. The increase is as much as 700% over prior years!

English law is different from Texas law but the law firm notes several reasons that I have previously discussed like the change in the family structure and the fact that we are living longer. The English article also talks about self made or do it yourself wills being a cause (more…)

Necessary Parties To Will Contest

Necessary parties to will contestNecessary parties to will contest

In every lawsuit, there are necessary parties. For instance, a husband cannot file for divorce without making his wife a party and serving her with citation. The same may be true in will contest but there is a difference between states as to who constitutes a necessary party.

In Rem

In Texas, will contest are in rem, while in other states, will contest or in personam. In rem means about the thing while in personam means about the person. In rem means that a lawsuit or other legal action is directed at (more…)

Can Minors Contest a Will?

Yes. A minor can contest a will. Usually, a parent will begin contesting a will as “next friend” of the minor. That is the same procedure used in Texas for all lawsuits where a minor is a party. Someone may also be appointed as guardian of the child and start a challenge to a will. What happens if no will contest is filed? In that case, the minor has two years after he reaches eighteen to begin contesting the will. If the person doesn’t start the will contest with two years of reaching eighteen, then he can’t contest it thereafter because of the statute of limitations.

Copyright by Robert Ray a Texas inheritance attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. If you are concerned about inheritance laws, inheritance rights, have a family inheritance dispute, a property dispute or want information about contesting a will and need an inheritance lawyer, we can help. Please go to our main site www.texasinheritance.com and use the contact form to contact us today. We are Texas inheritance lawyers and would love to learn about your case and there is no fee for the initial consultation.

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