Contesting a will is typically pursued when someone believes the will doesn’t accurately reflect the wishes of the deceased. This is sometimes due to undue influence or other legal discrepancies. It can be a long battle that’s filled with considerable emotion throughout a process that may pit family members against each other.
Generally, only interested parties can initiate a will contest. These individuals have a direct, financial and material interest in the deceased’s estate and would be affected by the will’s execution. This group typically includes beneficiaries named in the will, those in a previous will and the deceased’s closest relatives under Florida intestacy laws.
Specific circumstances must be present
A will contest can’t be based merely on dissatisfaction with the inheritance. Instead, there must be legitimate legal grounds for the contest. These grounds may include:
- Lack of testamentary capacity: Arguing that the deceased didn’t understand the nature of their assets, the identity of the beneficiaries or the legal effects of signing a will when the will was executed.
- Undue influence: Asserting that the will reflects the desires of someone other than the deceased due to manipulation or coercion.
- Fraud or forgery: Contending that the will is a forgery or that the deceased was tricked into signing it.
- Improper execution: Demonstrating that the will doesn’t comply with Florida laws regarding its execution, such as lacking the necessary witnesses.
These are complex legal claims that require substantial evidence to support them. Understanding the basics of this process is vital for those who might find themselves considering a will contest. It may behoove them to work with someone familiar with these matters.