Florida Probate Lawyer: How Much Time Do I Have to File a Will Contest?

If you’re interested in filing a will contest in Florida, you do not have an unlimited period of time. The statute of limitations on will contests caps the amount of time in which you have to contact a Florida probate attorney and file any disputes as it relates to a will. Florida probate lawyer

This is the case with most legal issues in Florida, though the time at which your clock starts ticking may depend on a number of factors.

Unlike claims for things like personal injury or wrongful death, you have months – not years – in which to raise concerns. 

Discussing this and claim viability as soon as possible with a dedicated probate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale ensures your valid claim can be preserved and timely filed. Bringing an action through Florida probate administration is an extended process, and can require extensive pre-suit investigation, which is why it is important not to delay.

Reasons to Discuss Will Contest With Probate Litigation Lawyer

You must have just cause to contest a Florida will, and your Fort Lauderdale probate litigation attorney can discuss these options with you during a free initial consultation.

A will can only be challenged on a certain number of grounds. These include:

Lack of capacity. If a person creating the will (testator) does not have the baseline mental capacity to make a will and recognize the nature of his or her assets and to whom they will be distributed, a will may be declared void.

Lack of formalities. A properly executed will must be signed by the testator – and witnessed by two people, who must also sign. A Florida probate lawyer can help examine a will determine if it’s been drafted, signed and witnessed in accordance with state law. If not, it can be contested.

Undue influence. A will that is drafted or signed through coercion as a result of improper pressure (often by a relative, adviser, friend, health care worker or someone else close to the testator), undue influence can be asserted. A will contest alleging undue influence often arises when a long-established estate plan is suddenly changed at the end-of-life, particularly if the individual suffers some degree of decline in mental capacity.

Fraud. Estate fraud results when the testator makes a change on the basis of misrepresentations or lies. A will that is created as a result of fraud can be set aside as a result of a successful will contest.

Florida Will Contest Statute of Limitations 

As noted in F.S. 732.518, contest of a will cannot commence until after the date of the testator. Only those listed in F.S. 733.212 have the right to contest a will (beneficiaries, surviving spouse, trustee, persons who may be entitled who were exempted, personal representative of an estate).

Furthermore, F.S. 733.212 further indicates that anyone on whom a copy of of the notice of administration has been served must file any will contest or objection with the Florida probate court ON OR BEFORE THREE (3) MONTHS of the date of service of a copy of the notice has been filed (emphasis added). Failure to do so within that timeline will result in the objections being forever barred.

This is why you must act quickly if you have concerns. As a long-time Florida probate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Richard Ansara can help you examine your claim and determine the best course of legal action given your circumstances.

Call Fort Lauderdale Probate Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:

F.S. 733.212Notice of administration; filing of objections, Florida Statute

More Blog Entries:

Florida Probate Law on Paternity, Child Rights When Father Dies Intestate, Oct. 30, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Probate Lawyer Blog

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