Why Do People Contest Wills?
Ideally, wills are well-written, well-planned and legally binding documents that divide a decedent’s estate among heirs and beneficiaries. In some cases, however, a problem with the will’s creation or contents can make it invalid or cause disagreement about the decedent’s intentions. When this happens, an heir or people who had been named as a beneficiary under a previous will may choose to challenge the will in court.
Some of the most common reasons for challenging the validity of a will include:
- Improper creation. Generally, in order to be valid under Florida law, a will must contain the testator’s signature and the signatures of two witnesses to the signing of the will. When proper procedure is not followed, the contents of the will may not be binding.
- Capacity. A person creating a will must have the mental capacity to understand their actions. Many challenges arise when someone believes that the testator lacked capacity and that someone took advantage of this to exert undue influence and change the contents of the will.
- Contents. While the provisions of a will are generally allowed to stand regardless of the wishes of others, people may challenge the contents of the will in hopes of achieving a fair resolution.
- Previous wills. When previous versions of a will exist, or when a will has been changed through a codicil, those who receive less or nothing under the newer version may want to challenge the validity of the updated will.
To contest a will under Florida law, you must meet certain deadlines and may have to file a Petition for the Revocation of Probate with the court overseeing the probate process.
Whether you are seeking to contest the validity of a will or you are the estate’s personal representative seeking to uphold the will’s provisions, consult a knowledgeable Tampa probate litigation attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law. to learn about your options.