A close relative died recently. Surrounded by family and friends, you lay your loved one to rest and go through the motions of trying to get back to your day-to-day life.
You receive a call from the probate attorney asking for a meeting of all family members to attend the reading of the will. Something about the dividing of the property and assets does not sit well with you. Can you contest the will? And on what grounds can you challenge it?
Contesting the will
You may be able to contest the will. The state of Florida requires you to challenge it before the completion of the probate process. You can dispute the will using some of the following reasons:
- Incorrect execution.The testator – the person who made the will –must sign it. Two witnesses must be present and sign the will in the testator’s presence. You may contest the will if there is proof that it was not properly signed, drafted or witnessed.
- Mental incapacity.A testator must have the mental competency to make the will and understand who or what the property assets go to. The will may be void if you can prove incompetence. Declarations of incapacity may come from a prior medical diagnosis such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
- Undue influence.Undue influence occurs when a third party pressures the testator to execute a will that he or she may not want. Influencers may come in the form of relatives, friends, advisers or health care workers. Someone may befriend the testator as he or she declines in health and mental capacity.
- Fraud.Estate fraud entails influencing the will through deception. A beneficiary may lie about a person or situation that could lead the testator to disinherit someone.
You have three months to contest the will from the time of notification. If there is personal representative misrepresentation, you could get an additional three months. The will may be subject to intestacy laws if the court deems the entire will invalid.