When any person passes away, steps must be taken to resolve all financial and property-related matters of that person's estate. This typically happens during probate, which is the legal process of validating a person's will, paying debts and distributing assets.
With proper planning on the decedent's part and a valid, enforceable will in place, the probate process can go fairly smoothly. However, certain events can complicate matters, including the challenging of a will.
Why would someone challenge a will?
People can contest a will if they feel it is not enforceable or if it does not reflect the true wishes of the decedent. For example, parties might argue that a will is:
- Inaccurate or includes fraudulent terms
- Not legally binding
- Not valid in the state where a person passed away
They might also challenge a will if there is reason to believe the testator:
- Did not have testamentary capacity to create the will
- Was coerced or manipulated into signing the will
- Created multiple versions of a will
- Did not create or sign the will himself or herself
Who can challenge a will?
In accordance with Florida probate laws, only interested parties can contest a will. This includes people "who may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome," such as beneficiaries and someone who may have been disinherited.
It is also important to note that disputes involving creditor claims can also arise during probate. In the months after a person's death, creditors have the opportunity to file a claim. These claims may or may not be valid, so interested parties may have grounds to file an objection.
Challenging a will can be exceedingly complicated. This is not to say it is impossible, though. If you have concerns about challenges to your will or if you wish to contest someone else's will, then it would be wise to consult an attorney regarding your legal options.