One of the purposes of estate planning is to ensure that your assets go to the people you want them to go to when you die. However, sometimes heirs or other interested parties have issues with estate plans.
A contest occurs when an interested party formally disputes an estate plan.
What is a contest?
A contest is a challenge that parties with legal standing may bring during the probate of an estate. A person who contests an estate plan asserts that it is invalid based on a specific legal ground. Any interested person can file a contest, but it is usually a beneficiary, heir or creditor.
What are the grounds for a contest?
There are three legal grounds for contesting a Will in Florida:
- Execution irregularities
- Undue influence
- Lack of capacity
A contest based on irregularities asserts that the Will does not meet the legal requirements to be valid.
A contest due to undue influence is a claim that a benefactor of the Will caused the decedent to write or change the Will by exerting mental or emotional control over the decedent.
The basis of a lack of capacity contest is the belief that the decedent lacked the mental capacity to legally create a Will on the date the defendant created it.
You can reduce the chances of a contest by taking steps, such as including a no-contest clause, beginning your estate planning early, utilizing trusts and regularly reviewing your plan. Completely avoiding all possibilities for a contest is not realistic, but a well-thought-out estate plan minimizes this risk.