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Friday, September 13, 2019

Contesting a Will

There are many reasons why the validity of a will may be challenged. In most cases, however, a family member may feel that he or she has been wrongfully cut out of a will or that the contents of the will do not appear to accurately reflect what they thought would be in there. Whatever the reason, there are several grounds upon which a person may bring a challenge to a will.

How Can You Challenge a Will’s Validity?

In Florida, you have 90 days after the Personal representative has provided the Notice of Administration or 20 days if Formal Notice of probate proceeding has been received prior to the will being admitted to probate in order to bring a will contest action. Grounds for challenging a will’s validity include:

  • Improper will execution: If the formalities required for a valid will to be executed were not properly observed, the will may be invalidated. A will must be properly signed and witnessed to be valid. Lack of these technical requirements being satisfied may invalidate a will
  • Lack of testamentary capacity: Florida law requires a testator to have the mental capacity to create a will. The testator must understand the nature of his or her assets as well as how and to who the assets will be distributed according to the terms of the will. Proof of a prior medical diagnosis of something like dementia or Alzheimer’s may be used to establish that the testator lacked testamentary capacity.
  • Undue influence: This is the result of improper pressure being placed on the testator by someone else that leads to the testator being compelled or coerced to draft a will with certain terms.
  • Fraud: Fraud occurs if a person makes a misrepresentation to the testator that causes the testator to change his or her will. This often occurs in situations where one family member tells a lie about another family member in order to get the other family member cut out of his or her inheritance.

There are three possible outcomes to contesting a will. The first possibility is that the will is actually deemed to be valid and it will continue on through the probate process unchanged. The second option is that the whole will is deemed invalid. A prior version of the will may be reinstated. If there is no prior valid will, the estate would be distributed according to state intestacy laws just as it would if the testator had died without any will at all. The third option is that part of the will is deemed to be invalid or unenforceable in part. In this case, the other will provisions would still be carried out. Whether this option is a possible result in a particular case will largely depend on what type of challenge was brought against the will’s validity. If the testator was found to have lacked testamentary capacity, the will in its entirety would likely be invalidated. If there was fraud or coercion found, only the provision that was the result of the fraud of coercion may be invalidated and the rest of the will’s provisions would still stand.

Will Contest Attorney

If you are an interested party in a will contest action or looking to bring a will contest action, your time to act is short. Do not hesitate to contact Verras Law in order to make sure your voice is heard in this matter and things are properly handled. Contact Verras Law today.

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