Will Contests and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.
A Florida will contest is the filing of a formal objection to the validity of a last will and testament. The basis for the invalidity may vary, but the common assertion is that the last will and testament being offered to probate does not accurately reflect the true intent of their person making the will, otherwise known as the testator or testatrix. A Florida will contest is an adversarial proceeding pursuant to Florida Probate Rule 5.025.
The grounds for invalidating a will include execution formalities, lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, mistake, fraud and duress.
In regards to execution formalities, the initial consideration in determining whether a last will and testament is valid is to inquire whether the will was executed in accordance with Florida law. Pursuant to Florida Statute § 732.502, all wills must be in writing, signed by the testator or another at the testator’s direction, and the execution of the will must be acknowledged by two attesting witnesses, who sign in the presence of one another.
The most common grounds for a will contest are undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity, or a combination thereof. These topics are discussed in more detail in their own topic panels within the topic bar on the left.
Lastly, there are various time limitations associated with filing a will contest. Prospective beneficiaries, or removed beneficiaries, are often approached by other family members and requested to sign paperwork they do not fully understand. It is of the utmost importance that potential proponents of a will contest not sign these documents, as they might be waiving their ability to present such a claim.
If you are considering a will contest, please contact an attorney immediately to ensure you are not waiving any rights or failing to assert your claims in a timely manner. Our attorneys routinely deal with these type of estate disputes in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.