Developments In Inheritance Laws

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Is a forged will good for something?

Forged willForged will starts limitations

Is a forged will good for something? A forged will can be used to determine when the statute of limitations starts running says the San Antonio Court of Appeals.

A man died. A will was offered and admitted to probate. One of the heirs decided that contesting the will was warranted because the will was forged. The jury found the will to be a forgery. The trial court ruled that the testator died intestate. There was no order specifically setting aside the order admitting the will to probate, just an order finding that it was forged.

More than two years after the forged will was admitted to probate, some heirs filed an earlier will for probate. They contended that the testator did not die intestate but that he had a valid will. The court denied the probate of the earlier will. They said that, in reality, the filing of the earlier will was a will contest. Will contest have to be filed within two years of the date a will is admitted to probate. “We hold that section 93 of the Texas Probate Code (the two year limitations period) applies to those situations where a party attempts to probate an earlier will after a later will has been admitted to probate.”

The court said that even though the first will was forged, the limitations period began to run on the day that it was admitted to probate. Since the earlier will was filed more than two years after the forged will was initially admitted to probate, limitations had run and it could not be admitted. The trial court’s ruling that the testator died intestate stands. 100 S.W.3d 424

Taking Action Quickly

This case show again the importance of taking action quickly. If you don’t, you lose your rights. Instead of the estate going to the people mentioned in the earlier will, it went to all of the testator’s heirs because under the ruling, he died intestate. While the reason the court ruled the way it did may be based on the language “(t)here was no order specifically setting aside the order admitting the will to probate, just an order finding that it was forged,” you don’t want to take any chances. Act quickly.

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By Robert Ray a Board Certified attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. We handle litigation involving inheritance disputes. We don’t prepare wills. We don’t file wills for probate or distribute estates except when we are contesting a will or protecting a will from a contest. We handle a select few cases on contingency. Don’t use a comment to ask a personal question about an inheritance issue. Your name and comment are public. To ask a litigation question and to protect your privacy, click the red button to the right.

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