What are the Most Common Grounds to Contest a Will in Florida?

Sun, Dec 27, 2015


2149796212_0fba732bea_oSmithLaw handles probate cases all the time. Probate and wills are much more complicated than most people realize. They become especially so when there are disputes about who is inheriting what and why.

It is recommended that you have your estate planning completed whenever you have enough property or money to distribute to others or when you are financially responsible for others. It’s not good to wait until you reach a certain age to plan for your estate distribution, because you never know when it’s your time to go or when you might become incapacitated. You want to be sure that your estate and affairs are handled according to your wishes. You can always update your will, should circumstances change.

The best way to do this is to create your will and other estate planning while of sound mind and you have clear thoughts about how you want your estate distributed and controlled. This is especially important so you can make the decisions you want, and others can’t contest your decisions. Unfortunately, it happens all the time that a will is disputed.

Perhaps a family member doesn’t get what they want, doesn’t get anything, doesn’t get as much as they think they should, or is excluded in favor of others. If you’ve watched soap operas, you have seen the dramatic will readings where mourners flounce off in a huff, make a scene, draw out the probate process, or just plain act crazy. Most will readings aren’t like a soap opera or dramatic movie, in fact many wills aren’t really “read” in public or with an audience like that. Most wills are pronounced in a boring way.

Will contests occur for many reasons, and can happen after the person is deceased or when they are still alive but the will is changed suddenly. Sudden changes can happen, and sometimes for silly reasons. However, this doesn’t mean that the reasons aren’t legal or even good ones.

There is a time limit for contesting a will. Therefore, if you wish to do so you need to be sure you follow those time constraints.

The most common reasons a will is contested are:

  • Fraud—someone was tricked into signing the will. Perhaps they didn’t know what they were signing or didn’t understand the effect of what they were signing.
  • Undue Influence—certain people intimidated, coaxed, or coerced someone into signing a will that they didn’t want to.
  • Incapacity to sign a will—the person was not of sound mind when they created or changed the will.
  • Invalid will—the will is not legally enforceable because it was not signed, written, or executed properly.

Check out some of our other blogs about wills. These include What Does a Will Matter since I’ll Be Dead Already?, Undue Influence in Wills and Probate Cases, and The Types of Probate in Florida.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith, Sr. is designated a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer by the American Board of Certification.  SmithLaw is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Attorney Smith concentrates on bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, estate planning, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.  Call 941-202-2222 to learn more.  SmithLaw offers free consultations in certain areas, including consumer bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury matters.


Image: Some rights reserved by Tomi Tapio

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