Four Tips to Avoid a Florida Will Contest After Your Passing
Creating a will is already a challenging task, so it’s difficult to think that your efforts could be all for naught when loved ones contest its provisions after you die. Unfortunately, certain individuals may do so: Florida is the only US state that specifically prohibits no-contest clauses in wills, declaring them unenforceable. This means that a will contest is possible when someone objects to its contents – whether they were included, excluded, or not named at all. Your intentions may not come to fruition, defeating the whole purpose of preparing an estate plan.
As such, it’s critical to do everything you can to avoid people from disrupting your will and creating conflict among those who survive you. A Dade City wills lawyer can advise you, but some basic tips may be useful.
Tip #1: Strictly comply with the rules on will signing. This first recommendation is the most obvious, but many testators make mistakes when executing their wills. Florida law is specific on the prerequisites that must be met in order for the will to be valid and enforceable. They include:
- The will must be in writing;
- The document must be signed – at the end – by you as the testator, or marked by another person at your direction; and,
- You must sign in the presence of at least two witnesses, who also sign the will in the presence of you and each other. Plus, the witnesses must be disinterested, in the sense that they aren’t getting anything from your estate.
Tip #2: Record the signing of your will. One ground for a will contest is that the testator was not of sound mind when signing, and another is that the signature was obtained through coercion or duress. You can reduce the likelihood that someone will allege either of these claims by videotaping your signing of the will. In a video session, your lawyer will usually go over all provisions in the document and you indicate that you understand them. This demonstrates that you’re intentionally, purposefully including clauses in the will.
Tip #3: Consider advanced estate planning alternatives. One option to avoid disputes is to execute a trust to complement your will at the same time you sign it. You fund the trust by placing assets in it while you’re alive, so that your estate doesn’t officially own any of them when you die.
Tip #4: Work with a skilled Florida will and estate planning attorney.
By retaining a lawyer for assistance with your will, you can create an iron-clad plan for how your estate and assets are managed after your death. You may not be able to completely avoid a will contest, but litigation is less likely when heirs and beneficiaries realize that they’ll face an uphill battle in attempting to subvert your intentions.
To learn how we can help, please contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane by calling 352-567-0055 or completing our contact form. We can set up a consultation at our office to discuss your circumstances.