If one of the parties entitled to a share of an estate subject to probate does not believe that the last will reflects the decedent’s intentions, it is possible to contest the will by filing a claim in the appropriate court. What happens if a will is contested in Florida? Keep reading to find out.
Last Will vs. Probate in Florida – The Fundamentals
When someone dies in Florida, the person who controls the decedent’s will must submit it to the court.
Florida Statutes §732.901 (1) specifies that “the custodian of a will must deposit the will with the clerk of the court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead.”
The court will verify the validity of the decedent’s will and whether its terms reflect his or her wishes accurately. If the will is technically invalid or has language that does not reflect the testator’s intentions, it is possible to contest the document in court.
What Happens If a Will is Contested in Florida? – Taking a Closer Look
Only an interested party of the will may file in court to contest the document’s validity. In most cases, will contest litigations are filed by one of the testator’s heirs. Depending on how the claim is constructed, it is possible to challenge the document as a whole or void only specific provisions.
It is not unusual to find will contests involving invalid execution. Florida law has specific requirements for the validity of wills. If the provisions described in Florida Statutes §732.502 are not met, the document is not valid. It is possible to challenge a will based on other factors, which are:
- Undue influence
- Lack of testamentary capacity
- Execution under coercion or duress
Depending on the evidence presented in court, several factors may void a will (in whole or part). For example, if the testator was not at least 18 years old at the time of his or her death, the will is not valid.
Other examples include situations where the testator did not have a sound mind at the time the will was executed, or the will was signed by the testator as a result of fraud, coercion, or duress.
Challenging a Florida Will – Understanding the Process
Florida Statutes §732.518 provides that “an action to contest the validity of all or part of a will or the revocation of all or part of a will may not be commenced before the death of the testator.”
The statute of limitations to file a will contest in Florida is generally within 90 days after the issuance of Notice of Administration by the personal representative. If the receipt of a formal notice happens before the will is submitted to the court, the claim must be presented within 20 days.
Please note that specific circumstances may result in different time thresholds. If you want to contest a will, consult with an experienced Florida attorney immediately after receiving notice of the will administration.