Skilled Sarasota Attorneys Help You Contest Wills and Trusts
Knowledgeable attorneys know how to contest a will and trust
Wills and trusts are common tools of estate planning, but not all are created equal. Sometimes, wills are drafted under circumstances that render their contents invalid. If you believe this to be the case, you must file an action to challenge the trust or will. Trusts, being more complex, have more complicated rules. Trust administrators have certain duties in the execution of the trust, and if they fail in those duties, they can be removed as administrator through trust litigation and may be held personally liable for their actions. At the Sarasota County law firm of Lyons, Beaudry & Harrison, P.A., our team helps determine if you have a case to contest a will or trust, resolve the dispute or fully litigate the dispute in court, if necessary.
Grounds for contesting a will in Florida
Under Florida law, no one is allowed to contest a will until its creator has died. Often, it is not possible to even see the will until this happens and the probate process begins. Contesting a will occurs in probate court as part of the probate administration of the deceased person's estate. Generally, you have 90 days to file a will contest. These quick deadlines are one reason to hire a skilled probate litigation attorney who helps you establish grounds for a contest and file your claim before the limitation period expires.
There are a number of grounds on which you can contest a will, including:
- Lack of proper formalities. For a will to be valid, it must be signed by the testator and observed by two witnesses who also sign it.
- Undue influence. If the person creating the will, the testator, is compelled to create or change a will so that it favors someone who is considered to have influence over the testator, that undue influence may render the will invalid. This is common in the case of family and friends who want a larger share of the estate, especially those in a caretaker role who gains the confidence of a testator with diminished mental capacity.
- Lack of capacity. A person who creates a will must have testamentary capacity. A testator must have the mental ability to understand, in a general way, the nature and extent of the property to be disposed of and his/her relation to those who would naturally claim a substantial benefit from the will. The testator must also have a general understanding of the practical effect of the will as executed. There are degrees of mental unsoundness or mental weakness, and not every degree of mental unsoundness is sufficient to destroy testamentary capacity.
- Fraud. Fraud occurs when the person creating the will is lied to during the drafting of the document. This typically occurs when testators are not told that they are signing a will or when an individual lies about the information contained within the will.
Estate planning lawyers know the procedures for contesting a trust
A trust may be invalidated for all the same reasons as a will. The proceedings for the contesting of a trust are the same as for a will, except that the contesting of a trust is a civil matter. You may be limited to six months after the death of the settlor to file a trust contest. Trust litigation requires the help of a skilled attorney such as the knowledgeable lawyers and staff members on our estate planning and litigation team.
Make an appointment with a Sarasota will and trust contest attorney today
If you need to contest a will or trust, contact the attorneys at Lyons, Beaudry & Harrison today for a consultation. You can reach us by phone at 941.444.6407 or contact us online. Plenty of parking is available at our Main Street office in Sarasota in the Ellis Bank Building.