If you have reason to believe that a loved one’s will should be contested, you may wonder about the process of challenging a will in Florida. Not everyone can contest a will, and there must be valid grounds for challenging the document.
The probate attorneys at Veliz Katz Law help clients with contesting wills. If you are considering challenging a will, contact David W. Veliz to discuss your specific situation and find out your options for contesting a will. With an office in Orlando, Florida, Veliz Katz Law provides estate planning services to clients throughout Central Florida, including Maitland, Winter Park, and Kissimmee.
Reasons a Will Can Be Challenged
You cannot challenge a will simply because you do not agree with what has been written in the document. There must be valid grounds for contesting a will in Florida. If any of the following circumstances exists, a person with legal standing may have grounds to file a petition asking the probate court to throw out a will:
- Lack of testamentary capacity. Under Florida law, a will must be executed by an adult person who has mental capacity. In other words, if the testator was not of sound mind and judgment to understand the consequences of their actions when drafting a will, the document may be challenged on the grounds of the testator’s lack of testamentary capacity.
- Undue influence or duress. Another common reason for challenging a will is if there is evidence to prove that someone put pressure on the testator to coerce or manipulate them into disregarding their own wishes and following the influencer’s instructions for their own personal gain.
- Fraud. If there is evidence to prove that the testator was deceived into executing or modifying their will, parties with legal standing may have grounds to challenge the will.
- Forgery. The validity of a will can be challenged if it was fraudulently signed by someone other than the testator.
- Revocation. You can challenge a will if you can prove that the document had been revoked by the testator prior to their death.
- Improper execution. Florida law requires a will to be signed by the testator and two competent adult witnesses. A will can be challenged on the grounds of improper execution if it was not properly executed, witnessed, or signed.
If you believe that you have grounds to contest a will, consider speaking with an experienced probate attorney to assist you in determining whether you have legal standing to initiate the proceedings immediately.
Who Can Contest a Will in Florida?
Under Florida law, you must have legal standing to be able to contest a will. Anyone who falls into the category of an “interested person” may have legal standing to challenge a will in Florida. An interested person is any person who has a reasonable expectation that they will be affected by the estate administration.
In will-contest cases, interested persons may include the testator’s heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors. Before considering your petition, the probate court will determine whether you have legal standing to challenge the will.
Time Limit to Contest a Will
In addition to determining whether you have legal standing and grounds to contest the will, you must also be aware of the time limitations for filing a petition. In other words, you must bring a petition to challenge a will within a certain time frame. Otherwise, you will be barred from contesting a will.
Under Florida law, you only have three months – 90 days – to contest a will. The clock starts ticking on the date you are served with a notice of administration. Because there is limited time to challenge a will and the process is complex, you may need the assistance of a skilled attorney to navigate the will contest process more effectively.
The Process of Contesting a Will
A will contest is not a separate lawsuit. If you wish to challenge a will, you will need to initiate an adversary proceeding within the existing probate case. In order to contest a will in Florida, you need to file a petition with the probate court. In the petition, you need to explain why the probate court should throw out the will.
Keep in mind that you have limited time to contest a will in Florida. If you believe that there are grounds to challenge a will, you must file a petition with the probate court within 90 days after receiving the notice of administration.
However, challenging someone’s will can be a costly endeavor. A typical will contest case can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000, according to Consumer Reports. That is why you need to weigh the pros and cons of challenging a will before you get the ball rolling.
Get Trusted Legal Action Today
David W. Veliz is a probate attorney who helps clients understand whether they have grounds to challenge a will and, if so, how to begin the process. Get legal advice today to discuss your reasons for wanting to contest a will. Veliz Katz Law handles will contest cases in Orlando and throughout Central Florida. Schedule a case evaluation today to learn about your options.