WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER CONTESTING A WILL?

Challenging a Florida will is generally fairly challenging. Most estate litigation takes time and significant amount of evidence or documentation. Since the person in question is not available to clarify his or her wishes, the courts generally defer to the estate documents to govern the disposition of assets. However, some changes to estate plans may come about because of nefarious intentions on the part of third parties. So, how do you know that you should consider contesting a will? Here are some situations in which it might be worth it to take the plunge.

One of the more obvious probate litigation situations involves the use of an outdated will. If the decedent had drafted additional estate documents that are not being considered by the courts, that information must be brought to light. This is why dating your estate documents is so critical; the court wants to make sure that the most recent wishes of the testator are followed. State law varies on the nature of voided and updated wills, so it is important to know the specific regulations in the state of Florida.

In addition to this type of procedural challenge, it may behoove heirs to contest a will if they suspect fraud, undue influence or forgery. In many cases, this involves the manipulation of an elderly testator by another party who is interested in accessing that person’s assets. The offender may have exerted “undue influence,” or caused the testator to lose the free will to make his or her own legal decisions.

Challenging a will may lead to the successful elimination of certain provisions — or it could cause the entire estate plan to be dismissed. If the will is voided in its entirety, then the testator’s estate is distributed according to state inheritance laws. Consider the ramifications of the potential dismissal of an entire will before making the choice to contest the document.

Share this on...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someone

Written by Luis E. Barreto

Luis E. Barreto

Luis is a probate and guardianship litigator with over 23 years of experience in the field. Determination of heirs, will contests, breaches of fiduciary duty, removal of personal representatives, guardians and trustees are just some of the types of litigation he addresses. In addition, he administers non-contested estates and guardianships.