Florida Will Contest
What is a Florida Will Contest and what do you need to know? To see a free Florida probate video about a will contest, CLICK HERE. To learn more, keep reading.
An Introduction to Florida Will Contest
A Florida will contest is a challenge to a will.
It involves going to court, the probate court, and making a claim. This claim is often in the form of a court-filed document called a Petition. In that Petition, you set forth your case on why the will is not valid. That is your challenge. You challenge the validity of the will.
Florida law lists a limited number of reasons why a will may not be valid. Understanding all of these legal avenues is key to your success. Gathering your evidence is key. Finally, knowing how to try this type of case is paramount. Unless you settle your will contest, it will go to trial. A probate judge will tell you whether a will is valid or not valid. If there are a number of wills in play, she will tell you which ones are valid, which are not valid, and which one controls. Are you ready?
Affect of Fraud or Duress
A will that is caused by Fraud or Duress is void. Undue influence is a kind of fraud. Many times, people question wills that are signed right before death. Or, when a new beneficiary magically appears in a will, and was never there before. If a person forced or pressured someone to sign a will, that will may be overturned.
Fraud is serious business and must be proved with particularity. Here is a free Florida estate video on overturning a will based on fraud.
You have to file a petition to revoke probate if that questionable will was already filed. If there is no will filed, to inherit, you may have open probate yourself and seek a declaration. So, how exactly do you do a Florida Will Contest?
Getting the Ball Rolling
When a Florida resident passes away, how their property is disposed of must follow certain probate rules. Certain laws for inheriting property. Why? Because that’s what our laws say. Just like divorce and contracts have special laws, so, too, do estates and property of a deceased person.
Go to the probate court where the deceased person resided. A Petition for Administration is filed to “open” probate. Notice must be given to all persons who are “interested.”
If someone else already opened probate and you did not get notice, you have some work ahead of you. File an appearance, respond to any Petitions and motions, and consider bringing a Counter-Petition to enforce your rights. And make your claim.
If someone has already opened probate, and there is a will that is improper, you need to object. File a petition to revoke probate and tell the judge why the will is not valid.
Some wills that are not signed properly are VOID. That’s why the signing of the will is so important.
If the will was signed properly, you need to understand why the will is not valid. Have your lawyer make your case. Conduct discovery. Gather evidence. Prepare for trial. Get your day in court.