When you’re grieving, a complicated legal and financial process is probably the last thing on your mind. Yet, that’s often precisely what happens when families go through the probate process after losing a loved one. Probate is the legal method of proving a last will and testament, which means demonstrating that the will is legal and the deceased’s intentions are put into effect. The best-case scenario is that this procedure is relatively straightforward, quick, and devoid of complications. However, in some cases, disputes arise that lead to litigation.
Probate litigation refers to the legal proceedings associated with contesting a will, disputing a trust, or addressing any other perceived wrong from the court following a loved one’s death. At Patriot Legal Group, we understand that the death of a family member is a devastating and emotional time, not to mention the stress of having to endure an intricate legal process. By partnering with our experienced and compassionate lawyers, you may be able to better understand what’s involved with probate litigation, what you can expect in court, and ultimately the strategy you and your family can take to make for an easier transition.
What Is Probate Litigation?
Probate litigation occurs when there’s a dispute during the probate process. The following challenges fall under probate litigation and may require the help of an experienced probate litigation attorney:
- Will contest: It’s not uncommon for a will to be vague, changed under suspicious circumstances, include mistakes, or contain glaring omissions. When this is the case, the will needs to be legally contested or disputed in court.
- Mistakes in execution: F.S.§732.502 sets forth the execution requirements for a will to be valid in Florida. If any of these provisions aren’t met, the document isn’t valid under Florida law.
- Under influence: This type of claim looks at whether the person making the will did so freely and without being coerced by an individual who was in a position of control.
- Lack of testamentary capacity: This claim is alleged based upon the belief that when the will was executed, its creator didn’t have the requisite mental ability to understand the amount and nature of the property they were distributing.
- Determination of heirs: If a decedent left no will and didn’t often communicate with their family, the heirs must be determined by the court. Unacknowledged children who want to prove paternity/maternity may also attempt to claim an estate.
- Breach of fiduciary duty: Someone appointed by the court to administer a decedent’s estate often has responsibilities with which they are charged. Failure to adequately administer an estate, either by overt act or by omission, can be actionable.
Other types of litigation may occur if an interested person believes the personal representative has overcharged the estate, there’s a dispute about who will serve as the administrator, an individual contests that the executor isn’t providing adequate information, a surviving spouse exercises the right to claim a portion of the estate, and more.
How Long Do You Have to Challenge a Florida Will?
The deadline in which a will may be disputed in Florida is typically very limited. Florida law specifically prevents any challenge from being raised before the testator’s death. Once the probate process is underway, the deadline may be as little as 20 days from receipt of notice.
Who Can Contest a Will in Florida?
In Florida, a will can be contested by any “interested party.” The statute establishes this broadly as any individual who “may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome of the particular proceeding involved.” This may include beneficiaries and the personal representative of the estate but may also include others such as close family members who weren’t named beneficiaries.
What Is Trust Litigation?
Trust litigation is akin to probate litigation, except that it concerns a trust rather than a will. Like a will, the legitimacy of a trust may be challenged if it wasn’t properly created, the grantor didn’t have the legal capacity to write the trust, or the trust resulted from undue influence, coercion, or duress.
Contact an Experienced Orlando Probate Litigation Attorney Today
If you have any questions about probate litigation or any other estate law topics, it’s important that you get in touch with an experienced lawyer who can help. At Patriot Legal Group, you can rest easy knowing your estate matter is in the hands of a highly knowledgeable probate litigation lawyer. Our team has assisted hundreds of clients with their litigation needs and is dedicated to guiding you and your family with sensitivity and compassion.
At Patriot Legal Group, we intimately understand how overwhelming this process can feel, which is why we’re committed to standing by your side and protecting your legal rights. Our personal approach removes the guesswork and creates a smooth and pain-free process for you and your family. For all your estate planning needs, give us a call at (407) 737-7222 or complete our online contact form today!