It is crucial to prepare an estate plan so that one’s property and interests are properly accounted for. Many Floridians choose to draft wills to help work through this complicated process.
Wills are legal tools that must meet specific requirements to be valid. In some situations, heirs and potential beneficiaries to probated wills may challenge their validity based on particular deficiencies.
This article introduces readers to some of the common will problems that can lead to challenges in probate. It is not comprehensive and readers should always direct their questions to knowledgeable legal professionals to get case-specific answers. Will challenges can be stressful, but legal support can help individuals work out their estate planning disputes.
Reason #1: The will fails to meet all legal requirements
Wills in Florida must fulfill specific technical requirements to be valid. For example, all valid wills in the state must get written. Also, Florida wills must be signed by two witnesses. In some cases, if a will or a contested provision isn’t done by hand, there are insufficient witness signatures to it, the will could get set aside.
The technical deficiency of a will may result in its invalidation. Individuals can avoid this unfortunate result by enlisting the help of legal advisors who keep up with the current laws on estate planning.
Reason #2: The will does not reflect the wishes of the testator
Florida wills are required to be drafted and executed by adults who are of sound mind. In other words, kids generally cannot make their wills and individuals who do not understand what their wills do to the distribution of their post-death assets cannot sign away their interests on such matters. A lack of testamentary capacity or deficiencies in the soundness of one’s mind may disqualify an otherwise properly executed will.
It is an unfortunate truth that some wills get executed through the imposition of coercion on testators. They may be pressured, tricked, coerced, or even threatened if they do not include specific terms and distributions in their testamentary documents. If coercion, force, or other elements of duress can be demonstrated during probate, a will may be invalidated.
Reason #3: A prior will exists or the testator reportedly has two legal wills
A will is a governing document, and when a testator wishes to update their will, they may choose to redraft it to reflect their change in lifestyle or circumstance. After the birth of a child or a divorce, it is not uncommon for an individual to need to update their estate plan. When this happens, they must be sure that their former will gets destroyed.
A person cannot have two wills, but if an heir or beneficiary brings a competing will to the attention of the probate court, an investigation may be necessary. The court may need to determine which will should control the disposition of the decedent’s estate.
Will contests can be complicated and they can be stressful. The best way to avoid a will contest is to plan and prepare a will that is clear, convincing, and valid. Support for individuals dealing with will challenge cases can discuss their needs with Florida-based estate planning attorneys.