How to Object to Probate in Florida
From all the advice online about how to keep your assets out of probate, you would think that probate was the stuff of nightmares. In fact, the probate process usually moves along smoothly, and all the heirs get their inheritance once the estate settles. The reason probate takes several months is that it has a built-in window of opportunity for people to object to the will. During this three-month window, family disputes that lay dormant for decades when the deceased person was alive tend to bubble up again. Some objections to the probate of wills are simply a nuisance, motivated by greed or by personal grievances, and some draw attention to genuine errors or misconduct on the part of the personal representative of the will. Therefore, the court can decide whether your half-sister is simply objecting to you being named personal representative because she has never forgiven you for existing or whether your stepmother manipulated your father into writing you out of his will when his dementia was so advanced that he did not understand what he was doing. Whether you are the personal representative of the will or the one objecting to it, a Florida probate lawyer can help.
How Objections to Probate Work
To begin the probate process, the personal representative submits a petition for probate to the court and attaches the original will to it. The personal representative must then notify all interested persons that the will has been submitted for probate; “interested persons” in this context means people named as heirs in the will, as well as close relatives who might feel entitled to an inheritance even if the deceased person did not leave anything to them in the will. They must also publish a notice in the local newspaper that the will is going to probate.
Anyone who objects to the will or its administration must do so within 90 days of the date of the notice. If you miss the 90-day deadline, it is almost impossible to get the court to consider your objection. In your object, you must state your reason; for example, you might say that the probate is taking place in the wrong county or with the wrong personal representative. Many objections have to do with the authenticity of the will, claiming that it was forged, tampered with, or written under duress.
Prevention Is the Best Cure
It is usually not a complete surprise that someone objects to a will. If you think your family is trying to stop you from inheriting, or if you think that one of your relatives will turn a long-standing grudge into a court battle after another relative dies, then you should talk to a lawyer now and not wait until it is time for probate. Likewise, if you think that your own estate is going to be a point of contention among your family members, an estate planning lawyer can help you find ways to avoid problems with the administration of your will.
Contact an Attorney Today for Help
An estate planning lawyer can help stop probate disputes before they start. Contact Clearwater probate attorney William Rambaum to discuss your questions.