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Grounds and processes involved in contesting a will

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Contesting a will can be a complex and emotional process. When someone believes a will does not reflect the true intentions of the deceased, they may choose to challenge it in court.

Several grounds exist for contesting a will, and understanding these grounds and the processes involved can help individuals work through this difficult situation.

Lack of testamentary capacity

One of the main grounds for contesting a will is a lack of testamentary capacity. For a will to be valid, the person creating it (the testator) must understand the nature of the document, the extent of their assets and the claims of those who might benefit from the estate.

If someone believes the testator did not possess this understanding due to mental illness, dementia or intoxication, they can challenge the will. To prove this, the challenger needs to provide medical records, expert testimony and witness statements from those who observed the testator’s mental state during the will’s execution.

Undue influence

Another common reason to contest a will is undue influence. This occurs when someone exerts excessive pressure on the testator, causing them to make decisions they would not have made independently. This pressure can come from caregivers, family members or friends who stand to benefit from the will.

To prove undue influence, the challenger must demonstrate that the influencer had a close relationship with the testator, had the opportunity to exert pressure and that the testator’s decisions significantly benefited the influencer.

Improper execution

Florida laws require the will be in writing, signed by the testator and witnessed by at least two individuals who do not benefit from the will to be valid. If the will does not meet these criteria, it can be contested on the grounds of improper execution.

Contesting the will

The process of contesting a will begins by filing a claim in the probate court where the will is being executed. The person contesting the will (the contestant) must provide grounds for the challenge and present evidence to support their claim.

The court will review the evidence, hear testimony from relevant parties and make a decision based on the facts presented. This process can be lengthy and complex, often requiring legal assistance. Contesting a will can delay the distribution of the estate and may lead to family disputes, so you must consider these factors before proceeding.

Understanding these grounds and processes can help individuals decide whether contesting a will ensures that the testator’s true intentions are honored.


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