A will may help to ensure that an individual’s final wishes are carried out after that person passes. However, if a will is not structured properly, there is a chance that a family member or other interested party may attempt to contest its terms. For instance, if a Florida resident has multiple wills, there may be some confusion as to which one is valid. In most cases, the most recent version is the one that is accepted as valid by a probate judge.
However, an individual may claim that there are errors that should render that version invalid. If the challenge is upheld, an earlier will may be the one recognized by a court. For a will to be valid, it must be created by a person who is of sound mind and of sufficient mental capacity. Ideally, individuals will create estate plan documents while they are relatively young and healthy to avoid concerns over their ability to adequately express their wishes.
Wills might also be contested if there is reason to believe that they were written or changed because of undue influence. If a will contains clauses that are illegal in the state where the document was executed, it could be declared to be invalid. In some cases, only the improper clauses are stricken from the document.
An estate planning attorney may be able to help a person minimize the chances that his or her will is contested during probate. This may be done by reviewing or updating the document at regular intervals after it is first created. Avoiding a will contest may make it easier to settle an individual’s affairs in a timely manner. This may reduce the cost of settling an estate as well as potentially prevent conflicts between family members.