When may someone contest a will and who defends the estate?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2022 | Estate Litigation, Estate Planning, Probate

Anyone who believes they may have an interest in the deceased’s assets may contest a will in probate court. According to the Florida State Legislature, after the testator’s death, an individual may dispute an entire will’s contents or a portion of it.

Wills must name a personal representative who submits the document for probate. As noted on the Florida Bar website, the personal representative also notifies the deceased’s beneficiaries and creditors. The representative has the responsibility to defend the estate’s assets against claims filed in dispute of the will.

Disinherited individuals may need strong legal grounds to contest a will

Florida’s statutes provide its residents with the right to leave anyone out of their wills. Testators do not need to include language specifying that they disinherited someone. The law also does not require leaving a nominal financial gift, such as $1, to someone the testator intended to leave out.

With legal grounds, anyone may contest a will. As noted by SmartAsset.com, courts may require proof, such as a previous will that listed an individual’s name in it. If the testator changed his or her will shortly before dying, the court may ask for evidence of fraud or undue influence.

Personal representatives have a duty to protect their estates’ assets

The role of a personal representative involves protecting the deceased’s property. As noted on MyFloridaHouse.gov, the representative has the right to sell the estate’s assets and pay liens or creditors.

The personal representative’s duty of care includes reviewing all claims and distributing property. When contesting a will, the named beneficiaries’ best interests may take priority over a disinherited individual or unpaid creditor.