Florida is the destination state for many retirees. The warm, humid weather is beneficial for those with certain medical conditions or who don’t want to live in a snowy state during their retirement. The state also has plenty of infrastructure to help support older adults and unique probate laws to protect those who die in Florida.
For example, Florida state law prohibits the enforcement of no-contest clauses. Even if a testator included language in their will disinheriting someone who challenges their estate in court, the Florida probate courts won’t enforce that clause.
As the executor of an estate or the beneficiary of one, it’s important to understand the limited circumstances that might justify a challenge against someone’s will. What are the legal grounds to challenge an estate plan in probate court?
Suspicions of fraud
Does the document itself seem suspect? Do you question whether a will produced by a family member is legitimate?
You may wonder why your loved one drew up a different will after discussing their plans with the whole family or why they made such drastic changes to their documents later in life. In some cases, the documents could be fraudulent, meaning that someone drafted them in an attempt to trick other beneficiaries and possibly the probate courts.
Sometimes, those drastic changes are the result not of fraud but another kind of misconduct. Spouses, children and medical caregivers could use their position of authority to manipulate older adults.
They might take advantage of them by sharing sad stories or threaten to force them to change their estate documents. Undue influence often benefits someone in a caregiver role or a similar position of authority over the testator at the expense of others.
Lack of testamentary capacity
Sometimes, the issue is not whether your loved one intended to make certain changes but if they have the legal authority to make those changes.
Someone experiencing cognitive decline due to age or medical issues like Alzheimer’s disease may no longer have the authority to create legally-binding documents. The date when your family member created that document will influence whether it will hold up under scrutiny in probate court.