What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will in Florida?
When you lose a loved one, the last thing you want to do is stare down a lengthy probate battle. However, sometimes when the directives of a last will and testament are made known, certain people may choose to pursue the process of contesting the will.
There are several legitimate grounds for contesting the legitimacy of a last will and testament. If you are considering pursuing this litigation, or believe that another party is planning to do so, this article can help you understand what you might expect.
Grounds for Contesting a Will
While it is possible to contest the validity of a last will and testament, the court will not agree to review the case simply because someone comes to them and tells them that the will did not contain what they had thought it would, or because it “is not fair.” While both of these things may be true, it is not the job or role of the court to ensure that a last will and testament is “fair.” It is their role to uphold the laws and processes of the land and pursue justice. To that end, there are grounds for contesting a will. Meaning, you may be able to present your case as to why the will should not be honored. Some of the grounds for contesting a last will and testament include claims surrounding:
Mistake in Execution: Florida Statute §732.502 establishes the various execution requirements that a will must adhere to in order to be deemed valid in the state of Florida. If an interested party provides evidence that one of the provisions is not met, the court may rule that the document is not valid as it does not fulfill the requirements under Florida law.
Undue Influence: If bringing a claim of undue influence, the complaining party is attempting to assert that the decedent (who made/executed the last will and testament) created the will while being coerced or otherwise inappropriately influenced/under the control of a person who was in a position of trust and control over the decedent.
Lack of Testamentary Capacity: A person asserting this ground is claiming that at the time the last will and testament was created the decedent did not have the required mental ability to understand the amount of their property or its nature. That the creator did not understand who would ordinarily receive that property, and how the will acted to dispose of the property.
It is important to note that proving the lack of testamentary capacity will likely rely on medical records and a record of irrational conduct on the part of the decedent prior to creating the last will and testament.
Will Construction: A person might challenge the validity of a will based upon the construction of the will itself. A last will and testament might be vague, the named beneficiaries might be long dead, or the will may not contain instructions for disposing of the entirety of the estate. If this is the case then an interested party might seek the court’s assistance in determining how the affected items of the estate should be distributed.
Contact Suncoast Civil Law
There are countless instances where one minor change could have led to profoundly different end results. You owe it to yourself to engage with an experienced Sarasota probate litigation lawyer at Suncoast Civil Law. Our professional attorneys can help you understand your rights and how to best navigate your case moving forward. Contact our office today.