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Will Contests > Will Contests

Will Contests

Challenging a Last Will & Testament

In Florida, the probate laws are clear regarding what documents will be recognized by the Florida Courts as a valid will — as a document that provides the directions and wishes of how someone’s property is to be dealt with after he or she dies. Sometimes, these situations are emotional and upsetting; especially when there are allegations of undue influence upon the decedent by someone wanting to gain at the decedent’s passing. On other occasions, it is more of a cut and dried matter: there has been an error or mistake in the drafting of the will which may or may not be fixable under Florida law.

Challenges to Florida Wills Because of Errors or Mistakes in the Will Itself

Florida probate lawyers all too often find clients coming to them with documents they have located after a loved one’s passing which they believe to be the Last Will and Testament of that person. The document may have that title; it may look very official; it may even have been drafted by a lawyer or legal service – and yet, it will not be recognized as a valid Will under Florida law.

For instance, Florida law requires that valid wills:

  • Be signed by the person who is writing this will (the “testator”) at the end of the document;
  • Be signed by this person in front of two (2) witnesses; and
  • Be signed by these witnesses in front of the other witness and the testator.

If these things are not done and acknowledged that this is what has happened at the time the will was signed in the will documentation, then a Florida judge may rule this document is not legally valid as a will.

Challenges to Florida Wills Because of Undue Influence

Unfortunately, Florida lawyers learn about elderly victims of greedy people only after the deed has been done, and the elder person has passed away leaving the attorney to discover facts and information that reveal someone has manipulated that person for their own profit. These cases are even more shameful when the lawyer finds the person who has been exercising this undue influence over the decedent was a member of the decedent’s own family.

It is sad but true that there are many times when Florida wills are challenged because someone close to the person who has passed away – a sister, brother, son, daughter, or grandchild – has manipulated the person into changing their Last Will and Testament to give them more than they would have otherwise received. It is also true all too often that these cases involve infirm or elderly people who are especially vulnerable to manipulation.

Florida laws exist to deal with cases of undue influence. The Florida Legislature has passed Florida Statute 732.5165 which states that “a will is void if the execution is procured by fraud, duress, mistake, or undue influence. Any part of the will is void if so procured, but the remainder of the will not so procured shall be valid if it is not invalid for other reasons. If the revocation of a will, or any part thereof, is procured by fraud, duress, mistake, or undue influence, such revocation is void.”

In Florida, a will cannot be recognized as legally valid if it can be shown that

  • the person did not create his or her will freely (or modify or amend the will with their own free will and intent); or
  • the person wrote their Last Will and Testament only after they had been manipulated and coerced into doing so by someone in a position of trust and control over them.

How a Florida Lawyer Can Help in Challenging Wills and Will Contests

Fort Lauderdale, as well as Miami and all of South Florida, is the home of many retirees and senior citizens who have moved here from all parts of the country (and even the world) to enjoy their golden years near the beautiful ocean shores. However, this also means that their family members may live many, many miles away – which Florida lawyers find often allows for caretakers and others to take advantage of things. Undue influence will contests where family members must fight in Florida courts from their out of state homes are all too common here, unfortunately.

Additionally, Florida residents may seek to have wills challenged or contested simply because they do not follow or jive with Florida law, no matter how well intended the decedent may have been. Another common problem that Florida lawyers see in will contests in Fort Lauderdale and other parts of Florida are situations where decedents tried to save a buck with an old will drafted in another state, or with a will package they purchased at an office supply store or big box retail outlet.

Florida judges may appreciate the decedent’s desire to be prudent with his finances, but the judge will nevertheless hold that document to the procedural standards of Florida jurisprudence.

Therefore, in most every situation where a will is questioned or challenged in a will contest in Florida, a Florida lawyer will be needed to help sort things out. Can the error or mistake in the document be fixed under Florida law? Can the undue influence be corrected? Are there Florida cases that set a precedent here?

Fort Lauderdale Attorney Larry Tolchinsky Represents Clients in Will Contests

Florida lawyer Larry Tolchinsky has seen many different situations where Will documents were challenged in will contests based upon mistakes in execution as well as coercion, manipulation, or undue influence of the decedent. He represents clients living both in Florida as well as those dealing with Florida Will issues from their residences in other states and countries.

As a Florida probate attorney, Larry also handles estate issues such as management of business interests, debts owed by and to the decedent, and real property issues. In fact, Larry represents clients in probate matters related to a full spectrum of probate issues and controversies including:

To learn more about Larry and his qualifications, click on this link: Fort Lauderdale Probate Attorney

Contact an Experienced Broward County Probate Attorney

Contact Larry Tolchinsky to find out how he can help you. You can contact him by phone at 954-522-0207 or by e-mail through this web site to schedule an appointment and learn more about Broward Probate law. He offers a free initial consultation.

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