A Will is a legal document that states a decedents last wishes and distribution of property and funds. Sometimes, for one reason or another, a will is contested. Most Florida will contests are brought by a party who is affected by the will and who challenges the will’s validity, usually because the will does not purport to give the party what they want from the estate.
As you can imagine, fake wills are admitted into probate pretty often. Thus, a Florida will contest is a useful tool for seeking justice. However, sometimes a party initiates a fake challenge, for obvious reasons, so there must be limits to the process of challenging a will. To strike a balance between these two phenomena, the courts have established a set of rules to keep this checks and balance useful.
First, a Florida will may fail either partially or entirely. In probate and inheritance matters, just because one portion of a will fails due to a party’s challenge does not necessarily mean that the entire will fails. This is a great rule, considering how much corruption there would be if you only had to find one little tiny error in the will to make the whole thing tumble down in their favor.
Second, there is a time limit to challenging a will. The probate court prefers efficiency. They want estates closed out as soon as possible, likely for estate tax purposes, but nonetheless, they are reluctant to reopen cases even in the face of negative evidence.
Thus, it is imperative that you make a challenge to a will as soon as you learn that it has been admitted to probate. In Florida, an interested person on whom notice is served must file any objection that challenges the will’s validity, qualification of the personal representative, venue, or the court’s jurisdiction on or before the date that is three (3) months after the date of service of the notice of administration.
For example, if a will is admitted to probate on January 1, but you do not receive notice of administration until February 1, then you have until May 1 (three months after the notice of administration) to file a challenge to the will’s validity.