Everyone has seen a movie or TV show where a will becomes a major plot point. Someone’s been left out, and they’re mad about it, possibly to the extent of challenging the will. People in Florida should know that this does sometimes happen in real life. It’s a called a will contest, and it involves a lawsuit.
The basics of estate litigation
A last will and testament is the most basic document for estate planning. In it, people outline how they want to distribute their assets and name a guardian for their minor children. They also name the will’s executor, who will manage their accounts and ensure that their affairs are settled properly.
Sometimes, a person will hear the terms of the will and object. Perhaps it doesn’t sound like the actual wishes of the decedent are represented, or maybe there have been big changes when it’s compared to earlier wills. When this happens, it’s possible to file a lawsuit for a will contest.
Challenging a will
Will contests and estate litigation must be founded on appropriate grounds. There are only a few, very specific grounds for challenging wills:
• Legal formalities: When a will is hand-written, it might be contested on these grounds.
• Mental capacity: A person must be of sound mind when writing a will, or else it’s invalid.
• Undue influence: This can mean the testator was manipulated and unable to freely write a will representative of their wishes.
• Fraud: The will is fake, was stolen or has otherwise been doctored.
Will contests are generally long and exhausting cases, but they’re sometimes successful. If a will doesn’t address every issue for an estate, or if it seems very out of character, consulting an attorney might be wise.