Requirements of a Will Contest in Florida

Fri 28th Apr, 2023 Estate Planning

Losing a loved one is already a difficult and tragic experience, and dealing with the possibility of a will contest can add even more stress, uncertainty, and conflict within the family, as well as the risk of financial harm. If you are facing this situation, you can seek help from a Florida will contest attorney at Purcell, Flanagan, Hay & Greene.

A Will Contest in Florida Must Involve the Will of a Decedent 

To contest a will in Florida, the person who made the will (known as the testator) must be deceased. Because a will can be changed by the testator during their lifetime, it cannot be contested until after their death. Once the testator has passed away, beneficiaries or others with legal standing can contest the will under certain conditions.

A Will Contest in Florida Requires “Standing” 

Standing in relation to a will means having a legal right to inherit under the will or had the testator died intestate. This includes being an “heir at law,” which is someone who would inherit even if there was no will, such as a spouse, child, grandchild, or other legally recognized heir. It can also include being named a personal representative or beneficiary in a previous version of the will, but then being removed in a newer version.

Grounds for a Will Contest in Florida

The most common grounds for contesting a will include:

  • Improper execution, such as a failure to meet the Florida requirement that the will is executed by an individual over 18, witnessed by two persons who watch the testator sign the document and one another, in the presence of the testator 
  • Lack of testamentary mental capacity, which means the testator did not have a sound mind when the will was executed 
  • Undue influence, such as the use of duress or other pressure to influence the terms of the will 

What Happens if a Will Beneficiary Dies Before the Testator? 

Clients often ask what happens to the assets in a will if the named beneficiary dies before the testator, and the answer is that it depends on how the will is written. If the will does not name an alternate beneficiary, then the gift is considered “lapsed” and the other beneficiaries named in the will would receive that gift. These types of situations highlight the complexity of will disputes, and the importance of working with an experienced Florida will contest lawyer who can help support your position.

Connect with a Will Contest Lawyer from Purcell, Flanagan, Hay & Greene

To discuss your will contest and to determine what your rights might be, reach out to the probate litigation attorneys at Purcell, Flanagan, Hay & Greene by giving us a call at 904-355-0355.