Can I Challenge A Will Before The Testator Dies?
Beneficiaries and other interested persons can challenge a Will if they have valid grounds for a Will contest. In Florida, there are several legal grounds for challenging a Testator’s Will. But can you challenge a Will before the Testator’s death?
Legal Standing to Challenge a Will
Not all persons are permitted to challenge a Will. In Florida, you must have “legal standing” to contest the Testator’s Will. The term “legal standing” is used to determine whether the party bringing a lawsuit has the right to do so.
Under Florida law, you have legal standing to contest a Will if you are an “interested person.” You are considered an interested person if the outcome of the probate administration is reasonably expected to affect you. Interested persons include beneficiaries, heirs, creditors, and others.
Can You Contest a Will Before the Testator’s Death?
The short answer is “no.” Under Fla. Stat. § 732.518, you cannot file a Will contest to challenge the validity of the document (part or all of it) before the Testator’s death. A Will is considered an “ambulatory” document because it can always be changed or revised if the Testator is still living.
In some cases, the Testator’s heirs and beneficiaries do not know the contents of the Will until after the Testator dies.
What is the Time Limit for Challenging a Will in Florida?
If you want to challenge a Will in Florida, you have 90 days after the date of receiving a Notice of Administration to bring a lawsuit contesting the Testator’s Will.
However, the time limit for challenging a Will is reduced to only 20 days if you were served a copy of the petition to admit the Will to probate.
What Are the Legal Grounds to Contest a Will in Florida?
There are three most common grounds to challenge someone’s Will in Florida:
- Undue influence. You can challenge the Testator’s Will if you can prove that one of the beneficiaries pressured or coerced the deceased into changing or writing a Will to receive a substantial benefit upon the Testator’s death.
- Improper execution of the Will. A Will is a formal legal document, which means it must meet specific requirements to be valid. If the Will is not executed properly (e.g., it was not signed by the Testator in the presence of two witnesses, as required by Florida law), you may have grounds to challenge the document as invalid.
- Lack of testamentary capacity. In Florida, the Testator executing a Will must be of sound mind and at least 18 years of age. These two requirements constitute the person’s testamentary capacity. If a Will was written or changed when the Testator lacked mental capacity, any interested person could challenge the validity of the document.
If you are considering challenging the validity of the Last Will and Testament, you should consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney. Speak with our attorneys at Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, to help you navigate the process. Call 727-471-5868 to get a case review.