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When and How to Fight Probate Disputes

Hi, I’m Reed Bloodworth, the managing partner of Bloodworth Law with offices in Orlando, Florida and Winter Haven, Florida.

Are You Ready for a Probate Dispute?

Bloodworth Law handles a lot of probate litigation cases, and today I’d like to talk about when and how to fight probate disputes. Florida probate litigation – which is a legal action pertaining to a will — is usually first considered by an individual when they receive a Notice of Administration.

What is a Notice of Administration?

When you receive a Notice of Administration, don’t waste time. There’s a short window to dispute a will sometimes as few as 20 days.

A Notice of Administration is a formal document served by the Personal Representative that alerts all interested parties that the decedent’s will is being probated before a Court. It includes the name of the decedent, the estate’s case number, informs the interested person in which court the proceedings are taking place, and provides the interested person with a deadline to contest the Will.

Please Note: If a beneficiary fails to contest a will within the specified timeframe, their claims are forever barred.

Legal Disputes

The recipient of a Notice of Administration could have a unique situation and a dispute that may have a variety of legal bases including:

  • Duress
  • Lack of Mental Capacity
  • Undue Influence
  • Intentional Interference with a testamentary expectancy; or
  • Improper execution of the will

No matter how simple or complex a claim, or any promises made to a beneficiary that things will even out in the estate, or that someone will take care of him or she, a Notice of Administration will be enforceable in court and serve as a heard deadline to challenge a will.

90 Days to Challenge the Will

Once an individual is served with a Notice of Administration that person has 90 days to challenge the will or some portion of the will.  Following those 90 days, the window is closed.

If you are the Personal Representative, you can’t control family fights over an inheritance or insulate yourself from potential arguments and complaints from unhappy family members. What you can do is communicate early and often.

Here Are a Few Easy Guidelines

Tell everyone what’s going to happen: Let family members know that there are going to be some decisions that require collaboration. They will have the opportunity to provide input at that time. But there are also going to be decisions that you as a personal representative will have to make on your own, and you’ll keep them informed of those, too.

Before things get out of hand, or if they already have, give me a call. Again, I’m Reed Bloodworth, managing partner of Bloodworth Law. Let’s talk about how we can help you or your family resolve your probate dispute.

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