Grounds for Contesting a Will in Florida
Although a will is meant to outline a person’s last wishes upon their death, sometimes there is still reason to contest it. Contesting a will means that you want to challenge the will and are going to ask the probate court to throw it out and consider it void. Not everyone in Florida can contest a will. Only an heir that will benefit from voiding the will can challenge one. Even when an heir wants to contest the will and will benefit from it, they must have certain grounds for doing so.
The Will Did Not Meet Certain Requirements
In Florida, there are certain requirements that must be met when writing a will. For example, a person must be over the age of 18 and the testator must sign the will. Wills must also be written and have at least two witness signatures. The witness signatures can only come from disinterested parties, or individuals that have nothing to gain from the will. When any one of these requirements are not met, it can serve as grounds for contesting the will.
The Testator Did Not Have the Capacity to Write the Will
A person must also be considered of sound mind in order for a will to be valid in Florida. If you contest the will on the grounds that the testator lacked the capacity to create a will, you must also prove that claim. You will need medical documents and other records to do this. Even with the appropriate evidence, contesting a will on these grounds is still tricky. There are often arguments surrounding the opinions of the doctors involved, and the probate court may also recognize a moment of clarity, which can also make it more challenging.
In rare cases, a testator may feel undue pressure to write the will in a certain way, and feel that their safety is in jeopardy if they fail to do so. When this is the case, heirs with an interest in the estate can contest the will. However, when contesting a will on these grounds, it is important to know beforehand that proving duress is very difficult.
Fraud surrounding a will can occur when an heir lies to the testator so they will create or change their will based on what the heir has told them. For example, an heir may tell the testator that another beneficiary spoke badly about the testator in order to have the will changed so they receive more of the inheritance. Fraud is also difficult to prove, but when it can be done, this can prove as grounds to challenge a will.
Our Florida Estate Planning Attorney can Help with Your Case
Whether you are about to write a will or you believe you have proper grounds to contest a will, our Naples estate planning attorney can help. At Nici Law Firm, we know how to ensure that wills are enforceable, and also how to prove it when they are not. When you need help with any issue surrounding a will, call us at 239-449-6150 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.