Individuals named in a will or those left out of one may file a dispute with the probate court. According to the Florida Legislature website, you may challenge the validity of a portion of the will or its entire contents. The Sunshine State requires residents to create their wills in writing and to sign them in front of two or more witnesses.
Florida does not require wills to include any particular words. Individuals may describe their wishes and leave their assets to whomever they choose. If, however, you have reason to believe a will or a codicil contains a forged signature or reflects undue influence, you may raise the issue in court.
What is the probate judge’s role during a dispute?
A probate judge’s duties include verifying a will’s validity and overseeing the distribution of its contents, as noted by SmartAsset.com. Concerned parties may also contest the method by which the court distributes property if the deceased left something out of a will.
After the estate’s executor introduces the will to the probate court, the judge may accept disputes from its beneficiaries and interested parties. The judge’s role involves listening to the disputants’ testimonies and their reasons for contesting the will. The procedure may take several years to evaluate each claim and determine the deceased’s true intentions for leaving property.
What type of proof may serve to dispute a will?
When challenging a will’s validity, the judge may require proof of fraud or undue influence. Fraud may reflect a forged signature. Undue influence generally means someone pressured the deceased while writing the will. The will’s witnesses may provide testimony to help the court decide.
Although it could take time and effort to contest a will and back up a claim, the effort to do so may overcome an attempted fraud or an unscrupulous individual’s undue influence.