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Can you challenge your parent's will?

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If you were shocked and dismayed when you discovered the contents of your recently deceased Florida parent's will, you may be questioning whether or not you should challenge it. The answer to that question depends on what grounds you think you have for the challenge.

As you might expect, just because you did not inherit exactly what you thought you would does not mean that you can mount a successful will challenge. After all, your parent owned the property and had the right to distribute it however he or she wished - with a few notable exceptions.

Testamentary capacity

Anyone who makes and executes a last will and testament must have the testamentary capacity to do so. What that means is that you can challenge your parent's will on the ground of testamentary capacity if you can prove one or more of the following:

  • That (s)he did not have sufficient mental ability to understand the nature and consequences of making his or her will
  • That (s)he did not understand the extent or value of the property (s)he owned
  • That (s)he did not understand who the law expected him or her to name as legatees, such as his or her spouse, children, grandchildren, etc., as opposed to the people (s)he named instead
  • That (s)he did not understand what (s)he was giving to whom
  • That (s)he did not understand how all of the above worked together to result in a valid distribution of his or her assets

Undue influence

Another valid ground for challenging your parent's will is if you believe, and can prove, that someone was exerting undue influence over him or her at the time (s)he made and executed the will. Undue influence means that someone, such as your parent's caregiver, had so much power over your parent that (s)he usurped your parent's own free will and substituted his or her own in its place.

Before starting what could become a long, drawn-out and acrimonious will challenge, do your homework. Discover what grounds you may have in addition to the above. Then, once you are fully informed, if you still feel you would like to challenge your parent's well, a good possibility exists that you may be able to prevail.

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