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Is disinheritance grounds to contest a Florida estate plan?

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2023 | Estate Planning |

People who are close to an individual with significant resources often expect that they will inherit property from their estate. Family members, especially children, often expect to receive a sizable portion of someone’s property after they die. In certain cases, people may make statements about their intentions for their legacy, giving family members and other close contacts very specific expectations.

Sometimes, people end up totally shocked by the contents of a loved one’s will, as they may receive nothing whatsoever or very little compared to other beneficiaries. The terms may also be far different from what they always talked about with the testator before they died.

Can those who anticipated and inheritance challenge an estate plan because the testator chose to disinherit them?

Some parties do have a right to inherit from an estate

For the most part, individuals planning their estates can have total control over the distribution of their resources after they die. However, the instructions that they leave will need to comply with Florida state law. It is usually not possible to fully disinherit a spouse unless there is also a marital agreement in place affirming those terms. It is also typically not possible to disinherit minor children. However, individuals can choose not to leave anything for adult children or any other family members who may anticipate an inheritance.

How would a disinherited party bring a challenge?

One of the more common ways for individuals disinherited by a testator to change the outcome of the estate administration process involves asserting that the testator omitted them from the will by accident. Other times, they could potentially raise claims about undue influence if one individual seems to have inherited far more than others and may have leveraged their relationship with the testator to obtain that inheritance. People can even raise questions about the testamentary capacity of the decedent at the time that they drafted documents.

Any of these approaches could potentially lead to the courts setting aside estate planning paperwork, provided that the disinherited individual has evidence supporting their claims. Making sense of Florida’s sometimes complex probate laws may help those surprised by the contents of an estate plan understand their rights and options alike.


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