The Road To Probate Litigation

Before we discuss how people end up in probate litigation, there needs to be a generalized understanding of what probate is. In Florida, when someone passes away, all of their money, property, belongings, and debts become their estate. This estate can get dispersed to surviving spouses, family members, and even to creditors that the deceased had obligations to repay. This is probate. 

For example, if someone borrows money for a house and passes away shortly thereafter, that debt is still owed. 

Notice of Administration

People usually—and should—come up with an estate plan to outline what assets go to whom when they pass away. During this time, they created a last will and testament. 

When the will gets filed for probate, a formal document called a Notice of Administration is sent out to people such as the surviving spouse, beneficiaries, a trustee, and others who may be entitled to receive property and/or assets. 

This is one point in the process where the possibility of litigation might get brought up. One such reason is if a will was never created. Even if there is an existing will, the validity or meaning of it could be contested. 

Reasons For Contesting A Will

One of the reasons why an estate attorney is invaluable when creating a last will and testament is because there are laws and statutes outlining the requirements to ensure its validity. You need to ensure that your wishes are drafted and executed by a professional and competent attorney. Otherwise, people may have grounds to contest your will. And this is why you or others may also contest someone else’s will.

Secondly, people may try to coerce someone to have themselves added to a will. This can come in any form from anyone who had access to the person dictating the terms of the will. Sadly, this can happen with elderly people who are living with a diminished mental capacity. This is referred to as undue influence. 

This leads us to the next reason why someone might have grounds to contest a will. This occurs when the deceased created a will without the mental ability to comprehend the nature of their assets and how the will would effectively distribute them.

Some of the other reasons for probate litigation are as follows:

  • If there are assets to be distributed by are not addressed in the will.
  • When someone passes away without a will.
  • In Florida, surviving spouses are (usually) entitled to 30% of the estate, an interest in the primary residence, and even a family allowance. A surviving spouse might contest the will if they are not going to receive these things.    

Luis E. Barreto & Associates, P.A. 

If you have received a Notice of Administration or are anticipating having to challenge a will, Luis E. Barreto & Associates can help you through probate litigation. Should you suspect that someone had undue influence over the deceased, we can advise you about the road ahead. Contact us online and schedule a free initial consultation, or you can call us at (305) 358-1771.

Luis E. Barreto