On What Grounds Can You Contest a Will in Florida?

People often go through painstaking efforts to write their Wills. They take care to cross every “t,” dot every “i,” and pay for an attorney to go over it with a fine-tooth comb. All of these efforts are made in an attempt to make life easier on their family members and keep their estate out of probate courts after they pass away. Unfortunately, sometimes these efforts can be made in vain when family members call the validity of a Will into question.

Rules around when you can challenge, or contest, a Will are state-specific. The State of Florida requires that you abide by the following guidelines:

When Can I Contest a Will?

The State of Florida requires you to contest a Will before the probate process is complete, provided that the Will has been submitted to the court. If the Will has been submitted, and if you’ve received notification, you have 3 months from the time of notification to contest it. If you did not receive notification, you may contest after the 3 month period, as long as the probate process is still ongoing.

If the Will has not been submitted to the court you may challenge the Will at any time without restriction.

On What Grounds Can I Contest a Will?

You may contest a loved one’s Will under the following circumstances:

  • You believe and have proof that the Will doesn’t reflect the decedent’s wishes
  • You believe the Will was created under duress or is fraudulent
  • You believe the decedent was incapacitated when they created the Will
  • You believe all or part of the Will was created with undue influence

What are the Possible Outcomes?

There are various outcomes that can occur once you begin the contestation process. The court may find that all, a portion of, or none of the Will is invalid.

For instance, the court may find that the entire Will is invalid if they are presented with evidence that the decedent was mentally incapacitated when they created the Will. If they believe there was an occurence of undue influence for a portion of the Will from someone who had a fiduciary responsibility to the decedent, they may find that only a segment of the Will is invalid.

If the court does indeed deem an entire Will to be invalid, the estate would then be subject to Florida’s intestacy laws, where the court would provide rules for distributing the assets of someone who died without a Will. Sometimes, when there is a dispute like this over a Will, it’s very possible that the case will go to court. Our firm offers Florida estate litigation services.

Contact Us

If you believe a loved one’s Will was created under duress, fraud, or mental incapacity, the law offices of Luis Barreto & Associates is ready to help you. Of course, if you want to make sure that your Will is sound and is legally enforceable, we can help with that too. We offer a variety of estate planning services to our clients, including Florida estate litigation. For more information on the services we offer, please click here or give us a call at (305) 358-1771 to discuss whether contesting a Will is the right option for you and your family.

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.