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What are the reasons people contest wills?

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2022 | Estate Planning |

Floridians might contest a will for a number of reasons.

A family member or other loved one might challenge the validity of a will because they feel like they have been treated unfairly.

People who feel that a will did not divide property fairly or left them without a say in the estate are more likely to want to contest a will.

Oftentimes, family dynamics between siblings or between children and a person’s new spouse can contribute to will contests.

Of course, one should not lose sight of the fact that many people do have good reasons to feel like their loved one was forced or pressured into agreeing to an estate plan by someone who stood to benefit. They may feel an obligation to stand up for the wishes of their loved one.

And it is not just friends and relatives who initiate will contests. For example, if a deceased person’s favorite charity gets cut out of a last-minute will, the charity may challenge the validity of the new will.

There are limited reasons for contesting a Florida will

In most cases, Florida courts start by assuming that a will being presented to the court is the valid and most current will.

Although relatively rare, sometimes people will challenge a will on a technical defect, like the failure of a person to sign the will. There may also be some question as to whether the person left a later will.

However, in most cases, the person challenging the will alleges that the person who signed it was not mentally competent to do so. They may also allege fraud or some other legal ground, including undue influence.

What is and is not undue influence is a fact-specific question.  The general idea is that a person cannot take advantage of a relationship to pressure a person to change their estate plan.

Someone in the greater Ft. Lauderdale area who has concerns about the validity of a person’s will, or who on the other hand is facing the fallout from a will contest, should make sure they understand all of their legal options.



Photo of Jennifer D. Sharpe