When Can a Will Be Contested?
You’ve heard the stories before. A son who is the only child to a doting mother who promised to leave everything to him when she died. However, after she passed away, the son discovered that his mother had recently had her will redone and left everything to her housekeeper. Is the son simply left out in the cold with no inheritance, or does he have legal options?
If you believe that the will of your loved one isn’t valid, you may have legal options to regain your inheritance. Contesting the validity of a will is a difficult process and you should never attempt this process unless you are certain that something isn’t right. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you better understand if contesting a will is the right option for you. You will also have to be an interested party, which means you would have inherited something from the deceased had there not been a will in place. Here are situations in which a will may be able to be contested:
- Mental Incapacity – Florida laws require that a person executing a will have the mental capacity to do so. Incompetence is typically established through a medical diagnosis of senility, dementia, psychosis, or Alzheimer’s. Lack of require mental capacity may also be shown through witness testimony as to the irrational conduct the person displayed around the time the will was executed.
- Undue Influence – If you think another person had undue influence over your loved one or induced your family member to change how their assets were to be distributed through their will, you may be able to contest the will based on undue influence. You will likely be required to prove that a person exerted such undue influence on your loved one. However, if a person was in a fiduciary relationship with the person executing the will, they may have to prove that they did not exert undue influence. Those with fiduciary relationships may include a spouse, child, or a power of attorney.
- Fraud – If you believe your loved one was induced to sign a will fraudulently, you may contest the will. For example, if your loved one didn’t realize that they were signing a will, it could be considered fraud. Fraud may also occur if your loved one was given incorrect information that caused them to change their will.
- Lack of Proper Execution – If the will wasn’t executed properly it may be contested. In Florida, to be executed properly, laws state that the signing must be witnessed by two unrelated and independent witnesses. If it wasn’t witnessed, it isn’t valid. Florida court also requires that at least one person sign an affidavit stating that there were two unrelated witnesses who signed the will. A will may also be contested if a signature has been forged.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today
If you believe that your loved one’s will should be contested, or want to ensure that your will is adequate and would stand if contested, contact Tampa estate planning attorney David Toback today and let him guide you through the process.