Legal Reasons to Challenge a Will
Every person should have a legal will that dictates the wishes of the one who wrote the legal document. This document is considered legal and binding after the person dies. Sometimes, others attempt to challenge a will for several different reasons according to estate planning attorneys in Coral Springs FL.
Challenging a Will Could Force the Courts to Nullify or Void the Will
While there are legitimate reasons under the law to challenge a will, it could have unwanted consequences. The person challenging the will must provide proof that the person was under duress, under the influence of drugs or alcohol or is otherwise deemed incapable of having the mental capacity to change or write a will at that specific time.
The Challenger Must Provide Proof of Fraud, Duress or Mental Incompetency
This is difficult to prove to the courts and challenging an existing will on the appropriate grounds could force the courts to make the entire will void. A more recent will usually trumps any previous ones explains seasoned Florida estate planning lawyers familiar with this process.
Who Is Able to Legally Challenge a Will
The laws regarding wills vary from state to state, however most states lean in favor of the closest family member listed in the will. This is usually the spouse or an adult child. If the will is found to be invalid, the courts will then move to settle the estate as if a will never even existed at all.
This could take more time and often requires legal steps by the challenger or closest relative. To determine whether you have legal rights to challenge a will, it is best to consult with a law firm that includes Florida estate planning attorneys.
Who Is Not Allowed to Contest a Will
The law generally only allows an adult at least 18 years of age to contest a will. In some cases, in certain states, a child under 18 that has served in the military or was given adult status due to marriage or other ruling by the courts may be able to challenge the will.
How Does the Court Determine if the Person Was Competent at Time of Signing
In most instances, a court will consider a deceased person incompetent if it can be proven through medical records or solid testimony that the person suffered from dementia or was otherwise deemed mentally unable to make their own legal decisions. This could be due to a brain injury, a stroke or something similar. If the person was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time that they signed the most recent will, that could also be contested in court.
What Would Be Considered a Fraud or Undue Duress?
This often happens when a family member challenges a will that lists someone that they feel exploited their family member. This could be an outright fraudulent will, or it may mean that the one inheriting the money or property threatened or tricked the person to get them to sign the will.
A Coral Springs FL estate planning attorney cautions that courts tend to be suspicious of a claim if the person challenging the will would be the main beneficiary and had been estranged from the deceased for a long time. There have been unfortunate cases where a caregiver takes charge of the person’s legal matters although they might not be entitled to do so.