Florida probate lawyers know when an estate requires a will to be contested. This could happen when there is substantial proof a decedent was unduly influenced by someone who was a substantial beneficiary of the estate. An experienced probate attorney knows when undue influence has occurred in the form of coercion, duress, fraud and more. They will know how to prove the influence was so intense that it overwhelmed the willpower of the individual making the will.
What Is Undue Influence?
During the probate process, a petition is filed with the probate court giving notice to the beneficiaries and heirs. A court will appoint a personal representative who will give notice to all known creditors of the deceased and make an inventory of the estate's property. All funeral and estate expenses, including debts and taxes, will be paid by the estate. All property will be transferred to heirs and beneficiaries according to the will or under the Florida laws of intestacy if there is no will.
Probate disputes in Florida happen on a regular basis. They occur when an heir or beneficiary believes a will, trust or a lifetime gift of property or money from an estate is invalid. People often feel as though they were unfairly disinherited for no reason, or their inheritance drastically reduced because of undue influence on the creator of the will. If undue influence can be successfully proven in a probate court, the will can be overturned, set aside or declared invalid.
Proving Undue Influence
Undue influence in probate law is covered under section 733.107(2), Florida Statutes (2013). When it comes to contesting a will because of presumed undue influence, it is the alleged perpetrator who must prove no undue influence occurred. Probate attorneys in Gainesville, FL will know how to show undue influence took place with a will. At the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates, our probate lawyers will work to demonstrate the alleged perpetrator is a substantial beneficiary of the will. The special relationship between the creator of the will and the alleged perpetrator will be shown. The activity of the alleged perpetrator when it comes to procuring the will or trust will also be noted and more.
Proving Undue Influence
There are certain elements of a case that can prove undue influence.
- The presence of the alleged perpetrator at the time of the will's execution.
- The alleged perpetrator being present when a testator states they have a desire to create a will.
- Specific recommendations by the alleged perpetrator for using a specific lawyer to create the testator’s will.
- The alleged perpetrator knows the contents of the will before it is executed.
- Instructions concerning the contents of the will are given to the designated lawyer by the alleged perpetrator.
- Specific witnesses being chosen by the alleged perpetrator for the execution of the will.
- The alleged perpetrator safekeeping the will before it is executed.
Statute Of Limitations
The Florida probate attorneys at the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates know how to prove undue influence in a will. We know when a person has a strong case, and we are aware of how the Florida statute of limitations will impact a case. We know whether our clients have days or several months to exercise their rights and try to overturn a will because of undue influence. Should a person not act within the time frame specified by law, they may not be able to seek any type of relief from damages caused by undue influence. According to Florida law, a person may have up to five years before the statute of limitations expires.
Contact Our Probate Lawyers Today
If you are concerned that a will has been drafted or modified due to undue influence, contact a qualified Florida probate lawyer immediately. While it may seem that the statute of limitations affords you a great deal of time, you can never start too early in building a case. Our attorneys are experienced in Florida probate litigation, and we offer a free consultation to our clients who have questions and concerns about the probate process. Contact the probate attorneys of the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates today.