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When can someone contest a will?

On Behalf of | Oct 15, 2020 | Probate |

A last will and testament may seemingly reflect the deceased wishes, but family members, business partners, and others could be unhappy with its text. In Florida, laws exist to establish a process for contesting a will. Disagreeing with the deceased’s wishes won’t be enough, though. There must be a legitimate basis for the probate court to change directives.

Preparation is key

Contesting a will involves filing a lawsuit, so the first step someone must take centers on determining legal standing. A person must possess the legal ability to sue through proving harm or a connection. When contesting a will, the person should be someone the law would see as an heir if there was no will or the person was previously named in an earlier will. Remember, without standing, bringing forth a lawsuit could prove useless. A judge would likely dismiss the case immediately after determining someone lacks standing.

The court also examines the grounds to contest a will. Grounds refer to legitimate reasons to contest the document. If it turns out the decedent lacked the mental capacity to draw up and understand a will, the document could become contestable. Imposing undue influence on the testator’s decisions might invalidate the will, as would procurement by fraud. And how was the will signed? Were proper legal formalities followed?

Even with standing and proper grounds, a person does not have unlimited time to contest the will. In Florida, the time available to contest a will is 90 days. Once those 90 days elapse, the contesting party might have no legal options.

Questions about probate litigation might be best directed towards an attorney. An attorney could also discuss whether the appropriate grounds exist for the lawsuit.