What is my Deadline to Contest a Will in Florida?
Surprisingly, as astounding 55% of adults in the United States do not have a Will or any other sort of estate plan in place. While planning one’s estate certainly makes matters easier for loved ones after death, problems can arise even when one does make a will. There are dozens of reasons one may want to contest a will. Some of these include including lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, lack of the required number of witnesses or discovery of a later will. But when one realizes there is an issue with a will, what does one do and how much time does one have to challenge it? Legal actions typically have a statute of limitations. As defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, a statute of limitations is the “time frame set by legislation where affected parties need to take action to enforce rights or seeks redress after injury or damage.”
In Florida, the time limitation to challenge a will is statutory. While Florida allows years to pass on claims before barring actions with a statute of limitations, the Florida Legislature only gives three (3) months for someone to contest a will. Florida Statute §733.212 (the “Statute”) outlines the process and deadlines for the filing of objections. It states in relevant part:
(3) Any interested person on whom a copy of the notice of administration is served must object to the validity of the will, the venue, or the jurisdiction of the court by filing a petition or other pleading requesting relief in accordance with the Florida Probate Rules on or before the date that is 3 months after the date of service of a copy of the notice of administration on the objecting person, or those objections are forever barred.
As can be seen from the Statute, once one is served with notice of the will’s administration, the clock on objections starts to run right away. A notice of administration is simply a piece of paper the court serves in order to notify interested persons that the will is going to probate. Moreover, interested person means anyone who may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome of the will’s administration. The general rule is that if more than three (3) months pass and no objection is raised, objections are forever barred and a person who has an objection is out of luck. The only exception the Florida Legislature allows for this strict time limit is if there is a misstatement by the personal representative regarding the time period within with an objection must be filed.
Do not let time run out! Those who are interested in learning more about the statute of limitations on challenging wills, should not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys of Chepenik Trushin LLP, who are ready, willing, and able to assist you with your estate planning, guardianship, probate litigation and trust litigation needs. Call Bart Chepenik at 305-613-3548 or Brad Trushin at 305-981-8889.