Will Disputes

What would happen if a will could go through probate twice? This is generally prohibited. Wills are typically only probated once. If an agreement was made to accept the terms of a will and release all claims against the estate, the acceptee usually cannot relitigate the estate. Womble v. Akins gives us more insight on this question.


Holographic (handwritten) will

A signed will hand written that is legally binding.

Probate Case Law

Womble v. Akins. 160 Tex. 363, 331 S.W.2d 294 (Tex. 1960).

Facts and Procedural Process

Charles Thomas Tatum left two wills behind when he passed away. The first will was written formally at an attorney’s office and the second will was a holographic will he wrote and gave to his house keeper and alleged common law wife, Netti Edna Womble (Petitioner). Womble was one of the beneficiaries of Tatum’s first will and the sole beneficiary of his second will. Lee Atkins and O. E. Carlisle (Respondents) were two of the other beneficiaries under the first will. Womble was the only person who knew of Tatum’s second will when he passed.

The first will was probated once Tatum Passed away and the property was distributed. Womble felt entitled to more and a settlement was made to revise her takings from the will. One year later Womble filed to probate Tatum’s second will. Until this time she had not told anyone about the second will. During the probate proceedings of the second will, she alleged to be Tatum’s common law wife making all of his estate community property, meaning one-half of the estate should be designated and set aside as her part.

In both county and district courts Atkins and Carlisle moved to dismiss Womble’s application to probate the second will. This was overruled by the lower courts but sustained by the Court of Civil Appeals on the ground that Womble had no interest in the estate after she accepted the settlement agreement releasing all of her claims against the estate. This bars the relief sought in the present action. The Supreme Court of Texas affirmed this decision.

Probating and Contesting (fighting) an Estate in Court

Does acceptance of a prior will probate bar your right to litigate a subsequent suit between the same parties?

Yes. If an agreement was made to accept the terms of a will and release all claims against the estate, the acceptee can no longer relitigate the estate.


Womble v. Atkins shows that once the parties have agreed upon how an estate should be divided, the parties can no longer bring suit to relitigate the estate.

Do you need to hire an Experienced Probate Attorney for a Texas Estate?

When a loved one dies, the last thing you want to think about is hiring a lawyer. But if the estate goes through probate, it may be necessary. Probate is the legal process of distributing a person’s assets after they die. In Texas, probate can be a long and complicated process, so it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side.

If you’re named as the executor of an estate in Texas, you may be wondering if you need to hire a probate attorney. The answer is maybe. If the estate is small and simple, you may be able to handle the probate yourself. But if the estate is large or complex, or if there are any disputes among the heirs, it’s best to have an attorney to help you navigate the process.

An experienced probate attorney can help you with all aspects of probate, from filing the necessary paperwork to handling disputes. They can also help you understand the Texas probate laws and make sure that everything is done correctly. If you’re facing probate in Texas, don’t go it alone – contact an experienced probate attorney today. (210) 436-6601.


Related questions

How do I reopen a probate case in Texas?

If you need to reopen a probate case in Texas, you’ll need to file a “Petition to Reinstate Probate.” This petition must be filed with the court that originally granted probate. You’ll need to include the following information in your petition:

  • The reason why you’re petitioning to reopen the probate case;
  • The date of the original probate order;
  • The name, address, and phone number of the executor named in the original probate order; and
  • The name, address, and phone number of any attorneys representing the estate.

If you have any questions about how to reopen a probate case in Texas, you should contact an attorney.

Is there a time limit on probating a will in Texas?

Yes, there is a time limit on probating a will in Texas. The statute of limitations for probating a will in Texas is four years from the date of the decedent’s death. This means that if you want to probate a will in Texas, you must do so within four years of the decedent’s death. If you do not probate the will within this time frame, the court will not allow you to do so and the estate will be distributed according to the terms of the will.

What is the second stage of probate?

The second stage of probate is known as the “administration” stage. This is when the executor of the estate (the person named in the will to carry out its instructions) works to settle the deceased person’s debts and distribute their assets according to the will. The executor may need to sell some of the deceased person’s property in order to pay off debts, and they will also need to file various paperwork with the court throughout this process. Once all debts have been paid and all assets have been distributed, the estate can be closed and the probate process will be complete.

How long after a person dies will beneficiaries be notified?

If you’re an executor or administrator of a deceased person’s estate in Texas, the court will notify you and the other beneficiaries once the will has been accepted for probate. The court may also appoint you as the independent administrator of the estate, which means you’ll be responsible for handling all of the estate’s affairs. If there are any debts owed by the estate, you’ll need to pay them off before distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. The entire probate process can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years, depending on the complexity of the estate.

How to make a will in Texas?

A will is a legal document that details how you want your assets to be distributed after you die. You can name an executor in your will, which is the person who will be responsible for ensuring that your wishes are carried out. In Texas, if you die without a will, your assets will go through probate, which is the legal process for distributing your property.

If you have assets in more than one state, your estate may have to go through probate in each state. However, there are ways to avoid probate, such as setting up a trust. Trusts can be used to manage your assets during your lifetime and distribute them after your death without having to go through probate.

If you have a will, it is important to keep it up to date. You should review your will periodically and make changes as needed. For example, if you get married or divorced, you will need to update your will. If you have children, you may want to name a guardian for them in your will.

Making a will is an important step in planning for your future. It can give you peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out after you die.

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