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Can you prevent someone from contesting your will in Florida?

Apr 6, 2017 | Estate Planning

Hiring someone to create an estate plan, trust or last will is always a smart move. By committing your desires to paper and having them legally verified, you can reduce the risk of issues with your estate.

One of the best ways to create a legally sound last will and trust is to work with an experienced Florida estate attorney. This legal advocate who understands both Florida estate law and probate court will help you create an estate plan or last will that holds up in court. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to create a last will or estate plan that cannot be contested by your heirs or those who are not heirs.

In many states, you can add a clause that penalizes anyone who tries to contest your will. In Florida, however, the state does not consider their clauses legally enforceable. You can add a clause like that in hopes of deterring contestation, but the courts will not uphold it if your estate ends up in probate court.

Your best chance to avoid your estate going into probate court is to ensure that your children and other heirs are aware of the content of your will or estate plan as you change or update it.

Why can’t you include a ‘no contests’ clause?

The state of Florida is home to a large number of retirees. That means that there are also a lot of people who pass away in Florida. As a result, Florida probate courts handle a lot of estates of varying sizes. Lawmakers in the state are keen to protect the property rights of their citizens.

A rule prohibiting a penalty clause for those who contest last wills may actually protect those creating wills, as well as their families and others they hoped would benefit from their estate after their passing. Generally, people want their children, grandchildren and other loved ones to benefit from their estate.

Sadly, those who want to benefit from their acquired assets often target the elderly. Sometimes, this happens in assisted living facilities. Staff may engage in what is called financial abuse, where they manipulate the elderly into pitying them and adjusting their estates to include these workers.

There are also those who marry elderly people with high assets in the hope of pushing to be the sole heir. By allowing family members to contest a will, the state of Florida protects the lifelong interests of its citizens, not just their wishes when they may be mentally compromised at the end of their life.

Legal guidance is important for creating or contesting a will

If you are drafting a will, or if you believe a loved one was manipulated into changing his or her last will, you need to speak with an experienced probate and estate attorney. With legal guidance, you can determine the best way to create a legally sound and fair will or have a questionable will reviewed by the probate courts.