Many people have the foresight to draft a will dictating how their property and assets should be disbursed in the event of their death. Unfortunately, the process of administrating an estate is not protected from complications simply because the deceased person had a will. Instead, in some cases, one or more parties may find reasons to challenge the validity of the will and will file a will contest. It is critical for all beneficiaries of a will to understand their rights and how they may be impacted if the will is contested. The knowledgeable Cape Coral will contest lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are proficient at handling will contests, and we can advise you of your rights with regard to a will and help you to seek a just result. We regularly help people with estate planning issues in Cape Coral and other cities throughout Florida.The Right to File a Will Contest
Pursuant to Florida law, only an interested person can object to a will. In other words, only people who can reasonably expect to be affected by the administration of the deceased person’s estate have legal standing to file a will contest. Typically, this will include heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors. The courts usually determine whether an individual is an interested party and can contest a will on a case by case basis.
There are strict deadlines for when a will contest must be filed, and in most instances, a party who wants to object to a will has a relatively short window. Specifically, a person that received formal notice of a probate proceeding prior to the admission of the will to probate must file a contest within twenty days after the notice was served. If no formal notice of administration was provided prior to the admission, a person has three months to file a will contest. Learn more about these deadlines by speaking to a will contest attorney in Cape Coral.Grounds for Will Contests in Florida
In Florida, in order for a will to be valid, it must be properly executed by a person of sound mind. As such, a party filing a will contest will typically either argue that the execution of the will was improper or that the will is invalid due to the mental status of the testator at the time it was drafted.
Proving a will was not executed properly is relatively straightforward. Under Florida law, a will must be in writing, and the testator must be at least eighteen years old. The will must be signed by the testator or another person signing at the testator’s direction and the testator must acknowledge his or her signing in the presence of two witnesses. Two witnesses must sign the will as well while they are in the presence of the testator and each other. Usually, a challenge to the execution arises when the witnesses or testator did not observe each other signing the will. If a will includes a self-proof affidavit stating that the testator and witnesses signed in front of each other, it may be more difficult to challenge. A will contest lawyer serving clients in Cape Coral can go over these various ways to challenge a will.
Proving that a will is invalid for reasons other than improper execution is usually more complicated. Other grounds include lack of testamentary capacity, which means that the testator did not understand the practical effect of the will, the extent and nature of his or her property, or his or her relationship with the parties that would typically stand to inherit assets. Proving incapacity usually requires evidence that the testator suffered from a medical condition that causes cognitive issues at the time the will was signed. Parties can also object to the will on the basis that the testator was subject to undue influence or fraud or suffered from an insane delusion during the drafting or signing of the will.Consult an Experienced Lawyer in Cape Coral
There are many challenges that can arise when a loved one dies, which may include determining whether the person’s will is valid. If you wish to file a will contest or another party has filed a contest to a will in which you have an interest, it is prudent to speak to a Cape Coral will contest attorney as soon as possible. The lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can inform you of your options and help you pursue a favorable outcome. We regularly help people with estate planning issues at our offices in Cape Coral and Fort Myers and Naples. Contact us via our online form or at 800-283-7442 to set up a meeting.