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A look at undue influence in Florida probate

The scene is all too familiar. A loved one has died, but attention from that sad event is diverted by irregularities in probate. The will is different than described or it is not as it should be.

Here in Florida, it is possible with the help of an experienced attorney to ask for a review of the will or the estate. While no one looks forward to a will contest, it is important to protect your family, rights and assets.

A recent article a Florida legal journal on the possibility of undue influence points out that in a 1971 case, a Florida court listed seven signs to look for that suggest that undue influence by a specific person is the cause of the irregularities. Look for these indicators:

  • The person was present when the will or trust was made
  • Present when the testator (the person who made the will) talked about will creation
  • The person recommended a lawyer to do estate work
  • The person knows the terms of the will or estate before documents are complete
  • The person instructs the attorney on how to complete estate planning documents
  • The person finds witnesses to the will
  • And this person has possession of the will

Other factors can also be in play, of course. Isolation of the testator can be a potential factor, for instance.

Three years ago, the state legislature passed a law that regulates who bears the burden of proof in undue influence claims. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the burden can rest with the plaintiff or the defendant.

An attorney experienced in probate litigation can help you successfully navigate a complex process.

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