Read about the time limits relating to inheritance issues

Published by Robert A. Ray

Contesting a will in Texas
– Robert Ray

Two Years

Basic Rule: In general, a Texas will contest must be filed within two years from the date the will is admitted to probate, not two years from death.

It is advantageous to contest a will before it has been admitted to probate or even before it has been filed. But the two year statute of limitations allows you to contest a will in Texas even if it has been admitted to probate.

In Texas, you have two years after a will is admitted to probate to file a will contest. Note, it is not two years from death or even two years from the date the will is filed for probate. It is two years from the date the will is admitted to probate. A person has four years after death to file a will for probate so the date of death is not the determining factor.

Four or More Years 

If you are not contesting a will but just trying to obtain your inheritance, the statute of limitations may give you more time. See the article on heirship.

What does admitted to probate mean?

When a will is filed for probate, the clerk puts up a notice on the courthouse wall that the will has been filed for probate. Usually, that is the only notice required. They are not required to notify each heir that a will has been filed. After a time, usually several weeks to several months depending on how busy the probate court is, the judge will set a hearing on the will. If no contest has been filed, the judge will admit the will to probate at that hearing. That’s the date when the clock starts ticking. If a will contest is not filed within two year of that date, the will cannot be contested unless it is a forgery or if the contestant was a minor but has now reached adulthood. A good general discussion is here.

The discussions below are about the statute of limitations on contesting a will in different circumstances.

Contesting a will in Texas

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Where there is no will

Declaration of heirship

When a person dies without a will, then the probate procedure is to file an application to declare heirship. Evidence is given in court to determine who the heirs are.

Time limits for a declaration of heirship

The current law says that there is no time limits to bring a suit to determine heirship. Before that law, there was a general four year limitation period. But, the current law may only apply to estates where the decedent died on or after January 1, 2014. 202.0025, 13-19-00154-CV. If the decedent died before that time, then the four year limitations rule may or may not apply. An attorney will be able to advise you.

So, what does this mean? There are cases where illegitimate children are trying to obtain property from their parents or grandparents estates. Others are contacted by an oil & gas company showing that they may have some mineral interest. Depending on the facts, the person may be able to claim an interest or maybe it is too late. In any event, an attorney needs to be contacted to go over the facts and advise you of the proper way to proceed.

You should not take, or refrain from taking, any action based on this article. You should discuss your situation with your attorney who can advise you based on your situation.

If you have a question about a pending or anticipated lawsuit about contesting a will in Texas, use the Contact Us page at the top of the site to see if we can help.

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Can you probate a will after four years?

A will has to be filed for probate within four years of the death of the testator. After four years, a will can be filed as a muniment of title but only if the person filing the will is not "in default." When a late filed will is opposed, the issue is usually...

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Texas Statute of Limitations Limits Your Time!

It is important that you contact an attorney as soon as you suspect that there is a problem with an estate in which you have an interest. Even if you don't have a current interest but only a future interest it is necessary to contact an attorney now. If you wait, the...

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Robert Ray is Board Certified

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).
Contesting a will in Texas

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Contesting a will in Texas

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