The Types of Disputes That Lead to Probate Litigation
Estate disputes are more common than people realize and can quickly result in litigation. Recognizing the types of disputes that commonly result in litigation can help you decide how to proceed. If you think you are facing an estate dispute, you should speak with a Boca Raton probate litigation attorney to make sure the testator’s wishes are honored and your rights are protected.
Disputes Concerning the Validity of the Will
Florida law has very specific requirements concerning what a will must contain. For example, they must be in writing, signed by the testator in front of two witnesses, who must also sign the will. If a will does not meet these requirements, it could be declared invalid and unenforceable by a court.
Florida probate courts will also recognize wills drafted out of state so long as the will complies with the laws of the state where it was drafted, with some exceptions. For example, a will drafted in Arkansas will be considered valid in Florida if it would be considered valid in Arkansas.
Disputes can also arise over the validity of a will if it is believed that the will is a forgery or otherwise fraudulent document. These cases are somewhat rare and can be quite difficult to prove. If you are involved in an estate where there are concerns regarding the validity of the will, an experienced Boca Raton probate litigation attorney can provide you with guidance.
Disputes Concerning the Interpretation of the Will
Disputes also often arise when there are different possible interpretations of the will. This is common when people have drafted their own wills or used form documents. In their own mind, their will is perfectly clear. Unfortunately, ambiguities arise when the will goes to probate and there are no clear answers. Ultimately, the court may decide what the decedent’s wishes were in distributing their assets to the heirs.
A skilled Boca Raton probate litigation attorney will be able to determine how an ambiguous will could be reasonably interpreted. Using their knowledge of the law and their experience, they can then build a case as to how the assets should be distributed.
Lack of Capacity
Many disputes arise when the will was drafted or amended late in the testator’s life when they began to show signs of cognitive decline. Under Florida law, a person must be of “sound mind” when they draft their will. The will can be challenged if the testator was suffering from a mental illness such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. One could argue that the testator “lacked capacity” to understand the contents or consequences of their will.
Many disputes concerning the testator’s capacity also raise concerns regarding undue influence. When there are sudden changes to a will, one or more of the heirs may try to argue that the testator was unduly influenced by someone who benefited in some way from the change.
Contact a Boca Raton Probate Litigation Attorney Today
If you are involved in any of the disputes we’ve discussed, it’s critical that you receive legal counsel as soon as possible. At Ellis Law Group, we have deep experience in handling probate disputes, from the simple and straightforward, to high-stakes, sophisticated claims. To schedule an appointment with a Boca Raton probate litigation attorney who can help, contact us at 561-910-7500 to discuss your case.