How Much Time Do I Have to Contest a Will?

Although many people assume that they have an unlimited amount of time to contest a will, the reality is that Florida law caps the amount of time that claimants have to contact a probate court and file a will-related dispute. To ensure that you have a firm grasp of these laws, please contact a member of our dedicated contested estates legal team today for an initial consultation.

Important Deadlines

Most legal claims, like those based on wrongful death or personal injury, can be filed years after the event in question. Those who wish to contest a will, on the other hand, only have a few months to raise their claims or risk having them barred by the court. For this reason, it is particularly important for those who believe that a loved one’s will doesn’t actually represent that person’s interests, to discuss their concerns about the viability of a potential claim with a dedicated attorney as soon as possible. Those who fail to take this step and who aren’t familiar with the law risk having an otherwise valid claim filed in an untimely manner, and so rejected permanently by the probate court.

Filing a Will Contest is a Lengthy Process

Bringing an action in a Florida probate court is an extended process that comes with extensive pre-trial investigations and evidentiary hearings. The need to take these actions into account is an extremely important consideration for those who are thinking about contesting a will, as undue delay could make these activities impossible and so put an entire claim at risk.

Florida Will Contest Statute of Limitations

Under Florida law, a person cannot begin the process of contesting a will until after the testator in question has passed away. Once this has occurred, a plaintiff only has three months from the date that he or she was served a copy of the notice of the estate’s administration to challenge the will. This deadline cannot be extended for any reason, including a failure to disclose information or misconduct by the estate’s personal representative. Failing to file a petition before this deadline will result in the plaintiff’s objections being permanently barred.

Grounds to Challenge a Will

Even claimants who do file a will contest on time will only be permitted to proceed with their claim if their challenge is based on one of the following grounds:

  • Lack of capacity, which means that the testator did not have the mental capacity to create a will, recognize the nature of his or her assets, and distribute that property accordingly;
  • Lack of formalities, which means that a will was not properly executed, in that it was not signed or witnessed properly;
  • Undue influence, which means that a will was drafted through coercion; or
  • Fraud, which results when a testator makes a change to a will based on lies or misrepresentations.

To find out whether your own concerns about a loved one’s will are valid, please contact our legal team today.

Contact Our Office for Legal Assistance

Please call Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law at 847-325-5559 to speak with an experienced contested estates attorney about objecting to a deceased relative’s will.

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