The probate process can be a high-tension time during which the court will confirm the validity of a will and administer the deceased’s estate with assistance from a named executor. Tensions may flare further if a family member believes they have a reason to contest the will.
Contesting a will entails challenging the legal authority of the document in expressing the deceased’s intentions. To facilitate smooth probate proceedings, it is important for all involved to understand who actually has the right to raise a challenge against a will.
Who has the right to challenge a will during probate?
Only those named in the will, or who can prove that the will wrongfully excludes them, have the right to contest the validity of the document. Additionally, Florida legal statutes on intestate succession and wills state that an individual may not commence a contest of the will before the death of the testator. This is a process that should only take place during probate proceedings.
When is a challenge against a will valid?
When contesting a will, the burden is on the challenger to prove that the document is fully or partially invalid. The court will only recognize a challenge if there is sufficient evidence of fraud, duress or a lack of testamentary capacity in the deceased at the time of writing the will.
A successful challenge against a will can significantly alter the court’s interpretation of the document during probate or nullify it entirely. It is important that the court only recognizes contests from those with the moral and legal right to do so.