Few family arguments have the potential to explode faster than a discussion about dividing property after a loved one dies. If your family is fortunate, your elderly parent executed a well-written will before death. Still, wills do not always completely resolve family disputes.
In Florida, probate judges rely on wills to reduce uncertainty and boost efficiency. With a good will, your parent tells you, your siblings and the state how he or she wishes to dispose of personal property, real estate, investments and other items. Of course, not all wills are good.
Here are four times when contesting a will probably makes sense.
1. Your parent acted under duress
Your parent must have executed his or her will freely and without undue influence. If your mother or father was under duress or the victim of fraud, the will is probably either void or voidable. If you want to argue your parent acted under duress, you likely need to provide considerable evidence.
2. Your parent lacked legal capacity
Florida judges tend to assume adults have the legal capacity to execute contracts. Still, if you can show your parent lacked testamentary capacity, you may be able to convince the probate court to scrap the will altogether.
3. Your parent made more than one will
Your mother or father may have written more than one will during his or her life. If she or he had two or more wills that seemingly contradict each other, you may ask a probate court to decide which will has legal significance.
4. Your parent did not follow legal requirements
Florida law requires wills to meet certain legal requirements. Probate courts may choose not to enforce deficient wills. To know whether your parent’s will satisfies Florida law, you may want to ask for a legal opinion.
Sadly, fighting over a deceased parent’s property can tear families apart. If your mother or father wrote a will before death, you may avoid legal headaches altogether. Still, if your parent’s will seems fishy to you, you may challenge it in probate court.