How to Contest a Will
If you are listed as the beneficiary in a will and have concerns about the will’s validity, you may choose to contest it. If this is the case for you, it’s important to understand under what circumstances you are permitted to contest a will, and how you should manage the process.
There are four limited grounds on which you may contest a will:
- It wasn’t signed in accordance with Florida law.
- The will’s signer might not have been mentally competent at the time of signing.
- Another person may have exercised undue influence over the signer (using threats or coercion), or the signer was a victim of fraud.
When you are listed as a will’s beneficiary, you receive a notice indicating you must respond before a given deadline if you wish to contest. Responding to this notice is imperative if you decide to contest — and make sure it is in writing. The next step is to begin your own investigation, as you are responsible for finding evidence that the will is truly invalid.
When performing your investigation, try searching for old wills that named you as a beneficiary. If you suspect undue influence, it can be very difficult to prove, but it might help to talk with the lawyer who helped draft the will or anyone else who knew the will’s executor personally. If you think coercion was a factor, try checking bank accounts for evidence of suspicious transactions.
If you are listed as a will’s beneficiary and have decided to contest, it’s important to consult an estate law attorney for advice. Contact a Tampa estate planning lawyer right away to schedule a consultation and begin the investigation process.