What Happens if a Will is Invalidated?

After a loved one dies, their Personal Representative submits a copy of the Decedent’s Will to the county Probate Court. After this happens, the Decedent’s spouse, children, or beneficiaries have three months to contest the Will if they believe either the whole Will or parts of it are invalid. While proving a Will invalid is difficult, it can be done. There are four options for proving that a Will is invalid:

  • Technical grounds: For a Will to be legally valid, it must be signed by the Decedent and two witnesses. If the Will was never signed by one of these three required people, that could invalidate the Will. While it is possible to claim that one of the signatures was forged, that argument is difficult to win since there are two eyewitnesses required for the signing and often a notary as well.
  • Undue influence: A scenario when this approach may occur is if the Decedent wrote or revised a Will to leave a significantly larger than expected share of their Estate to a caretaker who may or may not be related to the Decedent.
  • Fraud: This could include someone misleading the Decedent about the contents of the Will, or even leading the Decedent to believe they were signing a document other than a Will.
  • Lack of mental capacity: The Decedent must have had the mental capacity to understand what they were signing when they signed the Will. This could become problematic if the Decedent had Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia when they signed or revised their Will and may lead to a Will being invalidated.

Based on the argument and evidence presented for contesting the Will, a Judge could decide that the Will is completely invalid, partially valid, or completely valid. If the Will is completely valid, the assets will be distributed following the Decedent’s wishes, as noted in the Will. If the Will is partially valid, the assets mentioned in the parts of the Will that are still valid will be distributed as noted in the Will. If the Judge finds the Will to be completely invalid, then the assets will not be distributed as detailed in the Will. In the last two cases, if the Decedent had a previous version of the Will that is valid, the Judge may choose to distribute the assets based on the Decedent’s prior Will. If there is no prior valid Will, then the Judge will distribute the assets following Florida’s laws of intestacy.

If you are thinking about contesting a Will or are a Personal Representative of an Estate whose Will is being contested, contact Huth, Pratt & Milhauser. Our estate planning and probate litigation experts can guide you through this difficult process and, if necessary, fight for your rights in Court. Similarly, if you are contemplating writing or revising a Will, call us first so we can help to minimize the likelihood of your Will being invalidated.

Huth, Pratt & Milhauser

Huth, Pratt & Milhauser is a boutique law firm that offers a wide range of legal services in the specialty areas of Wills, Trusts, Estates, Probate, Guardianship, and related matters. The range of legal services that Huth, Pratt & Milhauser provides in these specialty areas includes planning, administration and litigation. The experience and skills of our attorneys and staff, coupled with our knowledge of applicable law, enable us to provide outstanding representation to our clients.

Although we are located in South Florida, we proudly serve clients throughout the country and around the world from our Boca Raton offices. We strive to provide superior and focused counsel in a timely manner and at a competitive price.

2500 North Military Trail, Suite 460
Boca Raton, Florida   33431
Phone: 561-392-1800

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