Probate is a legal process that starts after a person’s death. In probate, the court supervises the organization and distribution of the deceased’s estate—money, assets, and possessions—among the beneficiaries after settling any debts and unpaid taxes. If there is a will, the division of the inheritance depends on the instructions provided.
However, disputes can happen among the surviving family and other beneficiaries on the estate’s distribution. If you wish to dispute probate or are involved in a legal dispute after a loved one’s death, a St. Cloud probate litigation lawyer can help resolve the matter for you.
Who Can Contest a Will in St. Cloud?
According to FL Stat § 733.212, the will or court-appointed personal representative must bring a notice of administration to everyone eligible to receive shares of the estate. Notice of administration is a formal letter informing these parties regarding the details of the will and when and where the probate proceedings will happen.
All parties who receive a notice of administration may bring a probate litigation action to the probate court. These typically include the surviving spouse and beneficiaries listed in the will.
Where to Contest the Will
The Circuit Court oversees probate matters in Florida, including contested wills and other probate litigation cases. Each county typically has one circuit court. Since St. Cloud is located in Osceola County, you will have to file your case with the Osceola County Courthouse.
To consult with an experienced probate litigation lawyer serving St. Cloud, call 855-686-6752
Examples of Grounds for Probate Litigation in St. Cloud
Here are some situations that often call for probate litigation. A St. Cloud probate litigation lawyer will be familiar with the probate laws and could help determine which statutes apply to the case. They can also assist in finding evidence to help support your grounds for objecting to probate.
Execution Requirement Errors
FL Stat § 732.502 contains the requirements citizens should comply with when creating a will. For example, all wills must have the deceased’s signature and have at least two witnesses who have their signatures on the will.
A St. Cloud probate litigation lawyer can help check if the will complies with all the requirements in the statute. If not, you can contest the will’s validity in court.
Unclear or Incomplete Instructions in the Will
Sometimes, a will can contain vague instructions on distributing the estate. It may also be that the will does not completely give away the entire estate. Furthermore, beneficiaries may have died or cannot be located. In this case, you could bring a probate litigation action so that the court can review the matter more closely. It will then determine how to distribute the estate.
Deceased’s Lack of Mental Capacity
FL Stat § 732.501 states that anyone qualified to make a will must be:
- Of sound mind (able to understand the will and the nature of its contents)
- At least 18 years old, or
- An emancipated minor
However, if a beneficiary has reason to believe that the deceased was not of sound mind when they executed the will, they could object to the probate. But they should also provide proof of the deceased lack of mental capability.
Suspected Undue Influence
A probate objection may also get filed if one party suspects that the deceased was controlled or pressured by an outside influence when creating the will. For instance, the distribution of the estate was unusually skewed in favor of one beneficiary.
A St. Cloud probate litigation lawyer could help investigate whether undue influence was involved in the will’s execution.
Failure to Administer the Estate Properly
Florida’s probate laws also contain the personal representative’s duties when administering the estate. However, the representative may still breach their duty, such as by not administering according to the will’s instructions. If this happens, they can be liable in a probate litigation action and get ordered to pay for the damages caused to affected beneficiaries and other parties.
Right to Elective Share
In St. Cloud and anywhere else in Florida, a surviving spouse has the right to receive 30 percent of the deceased’s estate. The law refers to this as an elective share. The percentage remains the same regardless of the will’s instructions regarding the spouse. It aims to protect the spouse should they be left with only a small amount of the estate or completely cut out of the will.
A surviving spouse could file for probate litigation if they believe they did not receive a fair share from the will. A St. Cloud probate litigation lawyer can also calculate the amount to help check that the spouse does receive their elective share.
Lack of will, Heirs, or Beneficiaries
It can also happen that the deceased did not leave a will behind or was separated from family members. The probate court would then have to determine who is eligible for a share of the estate. A potential heir or beneficiary, such as an unacknowledged child, could file for probate litigation to try to receive an inheritance.
St. Cloud Probate Litigation Lawyer Near Me 855-686-6752
Statute of Limitations for St. Cloud Probate Litigation Cases
Section 733.212 also states that anyone who receives a notice of administration shall have up to three months to formally object to probate. The time limit starts once they receive the notice.
Like with any statute of limitations for other lawsuits, your action for probate litigation will automatically get dismissed if you miss the deadline. However, since you only have a few months to work on the case, it would be best to start as early as possible.
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Consult with a Probate Litigation Attorney Here
Florida’s estate and probate laws can be complicated. So, before you decide to file a probate objection in St. Cloud, call the law office of Bogin, Munns & Munns. We have over four decades of experience handling estate-related cases throughout Central Florida. As such, our St. Cloud probate litigation lawyer can guide you through the filing processes and proceedings involved.
Besides probate litigation, we also work with clients in other practice areas, including family law, bankruptcy, and social security. To discuss your estate concerns with us, you can call anytime at (407) 556-3994. Our line is available 24/7 for you.