A last will and testament is a legal contract, and disinherited family members cannot contest a will simply because they don't agree with its terms.
That said, there are valid legal reasons for challenging a will in most states. If the court decides one of these reasons exists, the provisions of a last will and testament can be invalidated.
Legal Reasons to Contest a Relative's Will in Florida
State laws vary on the reasons why a relative may contest a will in court, as well as what happens if the dispute is successful. Depending on what grounds the will is challenged, a Florida court may declare one or more provisions of it invalid, or it can rule that the entire will is invalid.
Under Florida law, a relative can legally challenge a last will and testament if:
- The decedent lacked the mental capacity to sign the will. If the court finds that the decedent didn't have the mental capacity to create or sign the will, the entire document would likely be declared invalid. This means everything in the decedent's estate is distributed according to Florida's intestacy laws, just as if he or she had died without a will.
- The decedent was unduly influenced. A will may be void because someone else forced or influenced them to make a decision they wouldn't ordinarily have made.
- The will was procured by fraud. A will may be declared invalid if the decedent was deliberately misled by someone else, or if it was fraudulently created or obtained.
- The will wasn't created in accordance with state law. Each law sets forth procedures that must be followed in order to make a will legally binding. For example, every will in Florida must be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses, who must also solve the will in the presence of the testator. If the documents were not signed with the correct formality, then a court will invalidate them.
If you believe you may have grounds to challenge a loved one's will, the attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can advise you on potential options. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.