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How To Contest A Will In Florida

If you think that the will of a loved one is unfair or invalid, learn how to contest it in Florida;

Florida Will Contests

The process for contesting a will in Florida is similar to that in other states. You need to have valid grounds for contesting the will, and only those with some connection to the estate are allowed to contest. The following information can help you to understand what you need to do if you choose to contest a will.

How Do I Contest a Will in Florida?

To contest a will in Florida, you must file a petition with the probate court where you outline your concerns and petition for the will to be ruled invalid.

After a will is submitted to the probate court and probate proceedings start, the executor sends a so-called “notice of administration” to anyone connected to the estate, including heirs and trust beneficiaries.

If will disputes were to arise, this tends to be the time: A relevant party may feel suspicious of the will’s contents, or doubt the will’s legitimacy, and can then file a petition in the probate court where the will is being probated.

Who Can Contest a Will in Florida?

In general terms, anyone who is associated with the estate can contest a will.

More specifically, this means:

  • beneficiaries
  • heirs
  • guardians of minors

Are all able to contest a will if they see fit.

Contesting Execution Formalities

A will must meet certain legal conditions to be valid.

  • The will must be in writing;
  • The will must be signed by the testator (the person making the will);
  • The testator must acknowledge signing in the presence of two witnesses;
  • Two witnesses must sign in the presence of each other and of the testator.

If the will does not meet these conditions, you can contest the will on the basis that it is not legally valid.

There are usually several main reasons for which you can contest a Florida will:

  • The will is invalid, meaning it wasn’t signed correctly following Florida formalities;
  • The person who made the will lacked mental capacity at the time the will was made;
  • The person who made the will was under undue influence, or the will was subject to fraudulent activity.

Contesting a Will for Fraud

You can also contest a will that you believe is a forgery or fraudulent document. This might involve, for example, proving that the signature on the will is not that of the testator.

Contesting a Will Over Lack of Capacity

A person must have "testamentary capacity" or be "of sound mind" in order to make a will. In 1953, the Florida Supreme Court held that being "of sound mind" means that at the time of making the will, a person must have enough mental capacity to know what their property includes, know who their heirs are, and understand the consequences of making a will. If you believe that someone did not have this capacity when they made their will, then you can challenge it.

Contesting a Will Over Undue Influence

If you believe that someone forced or coerced the deceased person to change their will, then you can contest it on the basis of undue influence.

For example, if you believe that an abusive partner forced your relative to change their will to disinherit you for their own benefit, then you can go to court to make the argument that your family member was coerced into making the changes. You need to show evidence that the influencer had significant control over the will maker's decision, not that they were merely persuasive.

Is there a Time Limit to Contest a Will in Florida?

If you plan to contest a will on the grounds of undue influence or lack of capacity, you must do so within three months. In certain cases of fraud, the time limit can be extended.

Do you want to be sure that your will is legally valid and represents all of your wishes? We can help. Contact ClearEstate for a free consultation today.

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