When a person passes away, their will is usually used to distribute their assets according to their wishes. However, in some cases, one or more parties may contest the will because they feel it is invalid or does not accurately reflect the deceased person’s intentions.
In Florida, contesting a will can be a complex and time-consuming process. Here’s what you should know about reasons someone might contest a will and what happens next.
Reasons someone may contest a will in Florida
There are several reasons why someone might contest a will in Florida. Some common reasons include:
- Lack of capacity. The person who created the will, known as the testator, must have had the mental ability to understand the nature of their assets and the implications of their decisions when they created the will.
- Undue influence. If someone exerted undue influence over the testator, such as through coercion or manipulation, it could invalidate the will.
- Fraud or duress. A will might be invalid if someone forced the testator to sign against their will or helped them create the document under false pretenses.
- Technical errors. A will might also be invalid if there are errors, such as improper signatures or witnesses.
In addition to being frustrating, these issues can make the probate process take significantly longer.
What Happens During the Process of Contesting a Will in Florida?
If someone wants to contest a will in Florida, they must petition the probate court. The court will then schedule a hearing to review the petition and hear arguments from both sides.
Both sides must present evidence to support or challenge the will’s validity during the hearing. This may include witness testimony, medical records, and other documentation. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their case and cross-examine witnesses.
If the court finds that the will is invalid, they may set it aside, and the court will distribute the deceased person’s assets according to Florida law. If they uphold the will, it will be considered valid, and the assets will be distributed according to its terms.
How Long Does the Process of Contesting a Will in Florida Take?
The process of contesting a will in Florida can take several months or even years, depending on the complexity of the case and whether or not there are any appeals. It is important to note that contesting a will can be a costly and emotionally draining process for all parties involved.
Contesting a will in Florida can be a complex and time-consuming process. It is essential to have an experienced probate attorney who can guide you through the process and help you understand your rights and options. If you are considering contesting a will in Florida, it is important to act quickly, as there are strict deadlines for filing a petition with the probate court.