In general, it is very difficult to challenge a decedent’s last will and testament. In realty, almost 99 percent of all wills complete the probate process without anyone bringing a challenge or any other issues. Typically, most probate courts consider a will to be the final voice of the decedent and, thus, make it a point to see that these last wishes are carried out. However, anyone who has a possibility of benefiting from a decedent’s will can bring a challenge before the court.
In order to successfully challenge a will, you must have a strong reason to do so. The following outlines the most common grounds that must exist for a person to challenge a will.
Lack of capacity
Typically, a person under the age of 18 does not have the capacity to create a valid will. However, some jurisdictions make allowances for minors that are married or in the military. For those over the age of 18, for a will to be valid, the decedent must have had sufficient mental capacity at the time he or she drafts the will. If you plan on challenging a will based on the grounds of lack of capacity, you must be able to prove that the decedent did not understand the full impact of the will at the time of creation.
Fraud or manipulation exists
Another reason to challenge a will is if fraud, forgery or undue influence exists. For example, if someone exerted pressure and manipulated the decedent into writing the will for their benefit, then you might be able to convince the court to declare the will invalid.
There is an updated will
Some people have multiple wills due to changes made over time. If another will exists that is dated after the will in the court’s possession, you may be able to use this as a reason to invalidate the earlier will. Typically, the court will favor the newer will over the older.
Other reasons for contesting a will include a lack of appropriate witnesses, residency issues and unlawful provisions. If you think a loved one’s will is invalid and plan to challenge the will in a Florida court, you must be able to prove that you have the grounds to do so. Taking legal action might be your only option to protect your interests and your loved one’s wishes.