Florida residents may know that when trusts or wills are challenged successfully, it may result in the document being discarded by the court. The distribution of assets may then be made as if this document did not exist. Understanding how this may happen and learning how it might be prevented is important.

Challenges must be filed within a specified time limit for both trusts and wills. The deadlines differ by state and may vary greatly. Once the deadline is reached, however, it may prevent any future action from being taken in many states. Contesting a will is limited to those with legal standing. This means that the person was named in a previous will for a greater inheritance or an individual who was disinherited might receive a greater share of the estate if there was not a trust or will.

In order to contest a trust or will, there must be adequate reason. If the challenger is able to prove that the grantor was unable to comprehend the value of their estate, understand the result of signing the document or lacked recognition of family members, this may be used as adequate grounds for challenging the trust or will. Other reasons for contesting a will include that the document was not appropriately signed or was signed fraudulently or under duress. The latter situation means that the grantor was subjected to sufficient pressure that they acquiesced to another party’s wishes.

Providing transparency concerning the existence of trusts or wills might help prevent future challenges. Using such vehicles as discretionary trusts to provide for some family members might also be beneficial.

With the assistance of legal counsel during estate planning, a will or trust may be created that meets the needs of the grantor. An attorney may provide insight into ways of structuring a trust or will to protect against challenges.