1. Lack of testamentary capacity
A will may be challenged, and potentially deemed invalid, if it is determined there was a lack of testamentary capacity at the time the document was generated. This can occur if the testator is not of sound mind.
To determine if a testator was not of sound mind there must be evidence that the individual did not realize they were creating a will, did not understand the nature of the document, could not properly assess the value of their estate, did not anticipate the repercussions of their choices, or were suffering from a mental illness.
2. Lack of valid execution
The testator’s bequest may also face a challenge if determined that there was a lack of valid execution. The validity comes into question if there is any doubt about the presence of witnesses and the testator at the time the Will was signed.
This could include but is not limited to, the testator not signing in the presence of the witness or witnesses who don’t sign in each other’s presence. All the formalities of a proper will, as instructed by the state, must be met for the document to be valid.
3. Drafting the document while experiencing undue influence
Another established notion for contesting a will in Florida would be if the testator were presumed to draft the document while experiencing undue influence. To prove a person was unduly influenced there must be evidence that the individual was coerced or under duress while drafting the document.
There is a very high standard for proving such a claim. There must be no doubt that the will was created, and in such a manner, that it could have been done so only while under undue influence.
4. Wills believed to be fraudulent or forged
Wills believed to be fraudulent or forged may also be challenged. Will’s are suspected to be fraudulent or forged if they were rewritten close to the testator’s death and drastically redistribute inheritance in favor of an individual who may have witnessed or produced the new document.
The Last Will and Testament may be ruled fraudulent if the document amended was done so at the urging of an individual who profited from the change.
Not all late-stage changes to a will are considered fraud or forged but if such allegations are made, there is a specific procedure for doing so. In Florida, this is a major issue due to the amount of elderly that reside in the state.
5. Rectification and construction claims
The last potential contest to a bequest can take place for rectification and construction claims.
These claims may be brought forth if clerical errors have occurred if the inheritance is misinterpreted or not distributed as instructed, or if the document was drafted negligently.
If the wording is unclear, this may bring about some confusion that needs to be interpreted and clarified by a court.