Estate planning is generally something than many people neglect until it is almost too late. This procrastination should be avoided at all costs, as doing so could endanger the estate’s assets in many ways. Property may go to the individual whom the deceased did not wish to inherit, and taxes and fees can leave the estate significantly diminished. Yet, even those who take steps in an attempt to protect their estate may wind up facing legal trouble.
One way these issues can arise is when a will is contested. Most wills pass through the probate process with little, if any, trouble. Yet, sometimes wills are hotly contested and, when they are, the matter can become quite complex and stressful for all parties involved. One way a will can be contested is by drawing the testator’s capacities into question. Since the court looks at a will as the voice of a testator, which is the person who created the will, it may find a will invalid if the testator is found to have been suffering from dementia or some other mental illness at the time of the document’s creation.
Wills can also be contested on the basis of fraud or undue influence. For example, a will may be made with fraudulent intention when the testator is manipulated by someone, often in an attempt for that someone to receive more property than they would otherwise. Undue influence can occur when the testator, for whatever reason, finds himself or herself in a position where he or she is unable to bargain with the person manipulating him or her. While these issues can come up from time-to-time, wills are also found invalid when it is discovered that a newer will exists.
These are just a handful of the legal issues that can arise when a will’s validity is drawn into question. The best way to avoid these problems is to ensure that one’s will, and entire estate plan, is crafted and clearly and legally binding as is possible under the circumstances. Qualified estate planning lawyers in Florida are likely able to assist individuals throughout this process to ensure that their estate and their wishes are fully protected.