If you have been named in a will but believe that you should have received more or are convinced that the will was not made under proper circumstances, you may choose to contest it. This is a complicated process in Florida, and it is important to understand what you are getting into before making any decisions.
Legal grounds for contesting a will in Florida
An interested party in the estate, a spouse or child of the decedent can contest a will under the following basis:
• The testator (the person who made the will) was not of sound mind when they made it
• The will was not executed properly
• The testator was coerced or unduly influenced into making the will
• The will is fraudulent
The law is very strict on contesting the dying wishes of anyone in Florida. And, merely not liking the provisions of the will is not a reason enough for the court to consider your case. But, if you truly believe something was wrong with the document, it is worth considering challenging it.
The contesting process in Florida
If you have decided to contest a will in Florida, the first step is to file a petition with the probate court in the county where the decedent resided. You should do this within 20 days of being served with notice of the probate proceeding. The petition must state the grounds for contesting the will and explain why you believe you should inherit from the estate.
The court will then set a hearing date. At this hearing, both sides will present their evidence and arguments. The judge presiding over your case will then decide whether or not to invalidate the will. If the court finds it in your favor, the estate will be distributed as if there was no valid will.
Beware of a no-contest clause when challenging a will in Florida. This proviso states that anyone who challenges the will forfeits their inheritance. But if you win, the court will distribute the decedent assets according to Florida’s intestacy laws.