Sometimes even the most-carefully drafted wills are going to go through probate. The question that arises is how long will it remain there? If everything goes to plan and the estate in question is properly catalogued, things might proceed in only a matter of weeks. If a problem comes up, though, months or more might be added to the timeline before the decedent’s wishes can be fulfilled.
One of the biggest, most-frustrating roadblocks you can run into when a will enters probate is a will contest. Anyone who might have a say in the inheritance or who personally knew the decedent can challenge a will in Florida by filing a Petition for the Revocation of Probate. The grounds for their contest, however, typically must revolve around one of three claims:
- Undue influence: Suspicion that someone’s actions caused the testator – the person who created the will, theoretically now the decedent – to change how their estate would be divided so it aligns to their favor. An example would be if your cousin continually spread lies about your behavior to your father and you found out you were given nothing in the will, you might be able to show that undue influence stopped you from receiving fair inheritance.
- Lack of testamentary capacity: As people get older, it may become more difficult for them to understand complicated legal matters. If you suspect the testator did not know the true value of their estate or was not aware of the extent of their family, or potential inheritors, you could create a will contest on grounds of a lack of testamentary capacity. This also extends to cases where they were not in the right state of mind to make any sort of decision on their own.
- Fraud: Using dishonesty or illegitimate practices to secure the creation of a will. In a simple example, a will could be fraudulently made if the testator was told that they were signing a piece of paper for a parcel that arrived at the door, but in reality the sheet was a will. It may seem unheard of but such situations do happen.
What to Do About Will Contests
Whether you are the one contesting the will or the one who needs to defend its validity, a will contest is going to take you and the will to probate court. With court, there quickly follows laws and litigation. The right way to ensure your best interests are upheld may be to retain the services of a Fort Myers probate attorney from our law firm. Your Advocates have more than 20 years of combined experience dealing with all sorts of estate planning and probate issues. Whatever will or trust complication is causing you trouble, we can handle it. Call 239.970.6844 today.