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Can I contest a will based on a relative's insane delusion?

Will Contest on a Computer Screen With Gavel and Scales of JusticeInsane delusion is one of the lesser-used reasons to contest a will in Florida. Much like a lack of testamentary capacity, a will can be declared void if the court finds that the testator suffered from insane delusion at the time of the will's execution.

What Is Insane Delusion and When Does it Apply?

The Florida Supreme Court has defined insane delusion as "a fixed false belief without hypothesis, having no foundation in reality." In 2004, a Florida court expanded the definition, proclaiming an insane delusion to be "spontaneous conception and acceptance as a fact of that which has no real existence, and is persistently adhered to in spite of evidence and reason."

Simply put, a will that was created or amended based on a testator's delusion should not be legally enforceable. Delusions may arise for many reasons, including:

  • Dementia. Evidence of mental illness or having suffered from delusions in the past may not be enough to invalidate the will, unless there is evidence that the testator was suffering from an insane delusion at the time of signing.
  • Effects of medication. The effects of certain medications can cause patients to hear voices or become susceptible to suggestion. In this condition, they may agree to the terms of a will without the ability to understand its purpose or the effects it will have on their heirs.
  • Effects of medical conditions. Organ failure, brain injuries, and other end-of-life conditions may cause patients to hallucinate or believe things that are demonstrably untrue (or impossible).

While any one of the above could have caused the testator to suffer an insane delusion, that alone is not enough to contest the will. You must be able to show that the insane delusion caused the testator to dispose of their property in a way that they otherwise would not have.

If you are defending a will or attempting to have a will voided in a Florida estate based on insane delusion, the estate litigation attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can examine the specifics of your case and explain your legal options. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.