Challenging a Will Comes with Certain Risks
Can you challenge the will of a recently deceased person? The answer might be yes, but even when it is a viable path forward, you should be aware that there are certain risks that come with doing so.
To challenge a will, you must show that there is something wrong with the will itself or with the conditions under which the will was made. Below are a few examples:
Failure to meet legal requirements
There are certain requirements a will must meet for it to be considered legally valid. For example, the document must be signed by the person who made the will and by two adult witnesses all in the presence of one another. These are usually the only requirements you must meet with the document itself to ensure its validity.
Lack of testamentary capacity
The person who creates the will must be of sound mind at the time of its creation. This means the will maker must know exactly what he or she is doing and the kind of repercussions their decisions will have when making that will. They must know what they own and that they are leaving items to other people through the will document. That will maker must also be at least 18 years old.
There are other conditions that could have been present in the creation of the will that would nullify the document. For example, a person must make the will of their own free choice. If they were subject to undue influence on the part of another person, that document is invalid because the influencer used a position of trust or power to manipulate the contents of the will.
In addition, a will could be challenged for fraud. There may have been extra pages inserted to the will after it was finalized by the decedent, or the decedent’s signature could have been forged.
No will challenge is without risk. For example, if the will contains a “no-contest” clause, you could lose any inheritance promised to you in the will if you lose the challenge, especially if that challenge was not made in good faith. Also, in Florida, such clauses are not generally enforceable at all. There’s also the chance that the money needed to challenge the will might not be worth what you’d get out of succeeding in the case.
To learn more about the different circumstances in which you might challenge a will and the potential risks you could face, consult a knowledgeable Tampa estate planning lawyer with BaumannKangas Estate Law.