In Temple Terrace, Florida, there is a process through which a person can challenge the validity of a will. This is identified as a "contested will" or "will contest."

Occasionally, testators leave out of their wills people who might naturally expect to inherit a substantial portion of the testator's estate (spouses and children, for instance). This might lead them to assume, truthfully or not, that the will was some kind of mistake.

If a considerable amount of money is involved, someone who was left out of a will, or not given what they were expecting, might believe that contesting the will is worth the time, money, and energy that doing so would require.

You should remember that a will contest frequently results in adversarial legal proceedings, which can be very combative. Considering the likelihood that other members of your family might be on the other side, it's clear that this can really damage a person's relationship with his or her family.

When Can a Will be Contested in Temple Terrace, Florida?

There are numerous reasons that a Temple Terrace, Florida court might hold a will to be invalid.

For instance, if the will was obtained through duress (threat of some kind of harm), then it is invalid. Duress, however, is difficult to prove. If a named beneficiary was in some position of power or trust with the decedent, and is not someone who one would ordinarily expect to get a large gift in a will, that might raise substantial initial suspicion of something improper happening. Of course, those facts alone are not nearly enough to prove duress.

Another thing to consider is the mental capacity of the person making the will. If, at the time the will was made, the testator was insane or heavily intoxicated, the will is likely to be held invalid by a court, if the underlying facts can be shown.

If the contest is successful, a court in Temple Terrace, Florida might find the will or part of it invalid. Of course, that leaves the question of how to distribute the property in the absence of a valid will. All states have laws that address this situation, typically passing the property to the decedent's closest living kin. All states have laws governing the order in which property is passed on in this manner. Normally, it goes to the spouse first. If there is no living spouse, it goes to the children. If there are no children, it goes to the decedent's parents, and so on. Most laws on this subject are written in such a way that almost everyone will have at least one relative entitled to inherit, even if that person is very distantly related to the decedent. In the very rare case where no living relatives exist, or none can be found, the decedent's assets usually go to the state.

Can a Temple Terrace, Florida Contested Will Attorney Help?

Contesting a will is often challenging, and never fun. However, the entire process can be made more bearable if you have the help of a knowledgeable Temple Terrace, Florida attorney, and the process will probably be much more manageable.