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Will Contests and Reformations

Defending Will Challenges & Contesting Wills, Trusts and Estates

Florida Will Contests or challenging the validity of a will, or Florida trust, are one of the hot areas of probate litigation. Knowing how to defend a will challenge if your inheritance is attacked is vital. If you are the personal representative of a Florida probate, and someone files a will contest, how you can mount a good defense? Or, if you are the remainder beneficiary of a trust, or a will, which is subject to an objection to probate, or a trust fraud lawsuit, defending such an attack with facts, and the law, are important to saving your inheritance. Are there other trusts, or prior wills, such that the doctrine of dependent relative revocation will help your defense? How do you, as a trustee, or personal representative, or a beneficiary, use Florida law to uphold the will or trust? There are distinct and important procedural, and evidence issues which you should know about to protect your inheritance. But, on the other side of the coin, what if you were wrongly dis-inherited or someone had a will or trust changed by undue influence which cut you out? How can you properly contest the will or trust?

Filing a Will or Trust Contest in Florida

These will challenges and trust contests are, for good or bad, now very common. If you are thinking about contesting a will or trust, consider this: These types of probate lawsuits are highly fact-specific, and the success, or failure, of your Florida inheritance lawsuit will likely turn on what you put into evidence at trial. What can you prove a trial? Who are the witnesses you are going to call to testify about undue influence? What documents or medical records will go into evidence about dementia, or the effect of medication? Increasingly, though, there is one area of Florida probate litigation which is growing perhaps even faster: changing wills and trusts after the creator has died. Under the Florida Trust Code, you can “modify” a trust and also “reform” a trust, even when the trust says that it is “irrevocable” and not “amendable.”

Changing Irrevocable Trusts & Wills (after someone dies) — the hottest, newest area of Florida probate law (modification and reformation of wills and trusts)

An important area of the law in Florida probate and trust circles is the modification and reformation of wills and trusts.

Do you know how to change a Florida trust which is irrevocable? Consider modification and reformation. You can read all about reformation of Florida trusts at this link, which brings you to the Florida Trust Code

If you believe that a change to the trust is in the best interests of the trust beneficiaries, consider reading Florida Trust Law 736.04115. You may be able to change the terms of a trust, even an irrevocable Florida trust, if such a change is in the best interests of the beneficiaries, or if the change is not inconsistent with the trust purpose. Read Florida Trust Code sections 736.04113. Can you really change a trust amendment or a whole trust document ? Yes, you can. Can you use these trust legal procedures to change the Florida trustee? Yes, you can.

An important part of trying to change a trust, or its terms, like how much money is inherited, or who can be the trustee, is understanding whether a mistake of law or fact occurred. In such a case, reformation of a trust may be appropriate: Read 736.0415 of the Florida Trust Code. 

Want to change a will? Florida probate lawyers once thought that changing a will after the person died could never, ever happen. That all changed when the Florida legislature passed a law which permits someone to change a will, or to reform a will, after the maker of the will dies. This process is called Florida will reformation. How do you change a will after someone has died? You can read about changing the will under this part of the Florida Probate Code, including Florida Statute 732.615. 

Understanding when a trust or will reformation lawsuit in Florida, or a trust modification lawsuit, may be more appropriate than a trust challenge, is an important part of your inheritance litigation strategy. Remember: objecting to a will or a trust, or a codicil or trust amendment, or trust restatement, by filing a will contest or Florida trust contest IS DIFFERENT THAN filing a reformation or modification lawsuit in probate court. These are very fact dependent. One of the most shocking discoveries you can make in life is to find out that the contents of a loved one’s will, trust or estate, have changed unexpectedly. Typically, these changes may come about abruptly and exclude someone who was a named beneficiary in a previous version of the will. Beneficiaries have rights under the laws of Florida to dispute the contents or validity of a will and to seek reformation of the will under certain circumstances. To do so successfully, you need the help of an experienced will contest lawyer.

At Pankauski Hauser PLLC, we have helped clients throughout the state object to the wills their loved ones left behind. Our knowledge and skills in the area of will contests and estate litigation have given us a reputation as trusted advisors throughout the Florida legal community. When other lawyers have cases that are too complex for them to handle, they turn to us. Lawyers who don’t handle probate lawsuits hire our firm for their own, personal and family inheritance matters. Our team of serious litigators is in the courtroom nearly every day, gaining even more experience that we endeavor to put to work for the benefit of all our clients.

Florida Will Dispute Attorneys With Experience In Cases Involving Invalid Wills

The most common way to contest a will is to question its validity. If a will is invalid, it may be overturned by the court. Situations in which a will can be invalid are vast and varied, but some of the most common circumstances include:

  • Abuse of confidential relationships
  • Fraud and deception
  • Exertion of undue influence
  • The testator lacking mental competence
  • Duress or coercion

If a will was changed suddenly or suspiciously, there is a possibility that at least one of these issues was involved. When you need help investigating or challenging a will, we use our piercing discovery techniques to get you the answers you need and make sure your rights are preserved. We also have the resources necessary to contest the individual terms of the will.

Questions About The Contents Or Validity Of A Loved One’s Will? We Can Help.

To schedule an initial consultation with a West Palm Beach will contest lawyer, call Amanda Phillips at 561-514-0900 Ext. 101  or fill out our online form.

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