How Can I Contest a Will?

Challenging a will is not an easy thing because the court views a will as the last wishes and voice of the decedent. Anyone who may have something to gain from the estate has a right to contest a will, but they must have the grounds to do so.

A person may challenge a will based on one or more of the following criteria:

contest a will-          Lack of testamentary capacity: When a will is challenged on this ground, it is usually on the basis that the decedent suffered from some kind of mental incapacity, such as senility, dementia, insanity, or was under the influence of a mind-altering substance. Minors are not considered to have testamentary capacity unless they are married or serve in the military. The witnesses who signed the will usually will testify as to whether or not the decedent had testamentary capacity at the time the will was written.
–          Fraud, forgery, or undue influence: You may contest a will on this ground if the decedent was manipulated into leaving all or much of the estate to the manipulator.
–          New Trumps Old: If there is a newer, valid will than the one going through the probate process, then the new will trumps the current will. This is why dates on wills are so important.
–          Validity: In Florida, the will must be signed by two witnesses. If the will is not considered valid according to Florida state law, then you have grounds to contest it.

If you think you have grounds to contest a will currently going through probate, then you should contact a probate attorney to discuss your rights.

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Weird Wills Part 1

A Last Will and Testament is not only a list of the deceased’s assets to be distributed. It is also intended to fulfill the last wishes of the decedent, and some people have had some pretty weird wishes when they die:

Millar

Charles Vance Millar was a Canadian lawyer and investor who died in 1926. He was known for his great sense of humor, and this was carried over to his will. Among other things, Millar left his vacation house in the custody of three people he knew hated each other, and left the cash value of his estate to the woman who gave birth to the most number of children in a span of ten years. Four women, who birthed nine children each, split the cash prize, amounting to $125,000 each.

dining tableBowman

John Bowman, a Vermont tanner who died in 1891, provided a $50,000 trust for the maintenance of his mansion and mausoleum because he believed that he would be reunited with his deceased wife and two daughters. The will called for servants to serve dinner every night in case the family returned from the dead and decided they were hungry. This was carried out until 1950 when the trust ran dry.

Houdini

Harry Houdini. The famous magician, who died in 1926, left his wife a “secret code” – 10 words chosen at random – that he would use to contact her from the afterlife. His wife held séances on Halloween for 10 years, but he never appeared.

Bentham

Jeremy Bentham, an influential philosopher who died in 1832, wanted his body to be dissected in public, as part of a lecture on anatomy, and then his skeleton and head to be preserved and stored in a display cabinet. His body currently sits on public display at the University College London, a school that he had a large part in creating.

What weird things would YOU put in your will?

Leave a comment or email us. We’ll post the best answers next month.

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Why Hire a Probate Attorney?

When your family has just suffered the loss of a loved one it is faced with hard decisions when it is most difficult to make them. Your choice of Boyer Law Firm, PLLC to assist you in settling the estate’s affairs should add clarity, efficiency and peace of mind to the guiding the settlement of your loved one’s estate through settlement and probate proceedings. Boyer Law Firm, PLLC works with the family to demystify Florida’s sometimes difficult probate procedures, laws and rules. Only through aggressive representation and compassionate care will your family ease the tension in this difficult situation.

“You’ll want to hire the attorney who regularly handles probate matters, but who also knows enough about other fields to question whether the action being taken might be affected by laws in any other areas of law. For example, if the decedent had extensive real estate holdings, the lawyer should also know something about real property law.”

Unfortunately, the law waits for no one, a decedent’s estate must be settled in a timely manner. The responsibility of who will settle the estate is determined by the Last Will and Testament of the decedent. The person named in the will to complete the task is called the executor of the estate. Through the probate proceeding (which is the process of proving the validity of the will) the court appoints the executor to be the personal representative of the estate. Hiring a qualified probate attorney should be one of the estate’s first and top priorities. Therefore if you have a probate issue please do not hesitate to contact us today at Boyer Law Firm and we will be happy to assist you in these matters.