According to Florida statutes, a will is a legal document that designates the recipients, or beneficiaries, of an individual’s assets. The individual who makes the will is known as the testator.

All or part of a will may be declared invalid in the event that the will was created by way of undue influence, mistake, duress or fraud. If an individual were to suspect that a will is not valid for any of these reasons, then that individual may contest the will.

An individual who contests the validity of a will is known as the contestant. The contestant must establish, by a preponderance of evidence, that the will was procured by fraudulent means in order to have the document invalidated. However, procuring substantial evidence that demonstrates a will was created under duress, fraud or undue influence may prove to be a difficult task. It is not permissible for a contestant to bring an action contesting the validity of a testator’s will prior to the death of the testator, according to state law.

An estate planning lawyer may look at a decedent’s will and review the evidence to determine whether contesting its validity is a viable option. For example, if there is medical evidence that demonstrates that a testator lacked the mental capacity to make sound decisions regarding his or her estate, it might be possible to contest the will. Another way to challenge the will is to show that the testator was vulnerable and was manipulated.

In the event that the contestant is successful, a will might be partially or entirely voided. If there were no previous wills drafted by the testator, the court might distribute the testator’s estate through the probate process.

Luis E. Barreto