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This estate planning trick won’t prevent will contests in Florida

Estate Planning & Administration

Maybe someone has two children who seem to fight over everything. Perhaps they remarried later in life and their children don’t get along with their new spouse. There are quite a few reasons why someone may anticipate that their estate will be subjected to a higher-than-average risk of probate litigation.

Those who worry that their family members will fight over their estates may decide to take special actions to reduce the risk of a probate conflict. There are numerous ways to deter family members from contesting a will, but one of the most popular is not an option for people in Florida. Those who move to Florida from another state may need to update their documents to remove any existing no-contest clauses, as they’re unenforceable in the Sunshine State

Florida has a different approach to probate

Every state has its own laws that determine what happens during the probate process. Typically, those laws are very similar from state to state, but sometimes there is one state that has a rule quite different from the others. Florida has a law that deviates significantly from the rules in most other states. Florida law specifically prohibits the enforcement of a no-contest clause or penalty clause included in someone’s will. Such a clause will eliminate the inheritance of anyone who contests the will. Having one present won’t necessarily invalidate the whole document, but the courts will not enforce the clause if someone includes it in their documents.

How can someone prevent frivolous litigation?

It’s only natural for someone to worry about conflicts among their beneficiaries diminishing the legacy that they leave needlessly. Although a no-contest clause can’t actually serve its purpose of penalizing someone for a will contest in Florida, testators can still be proactive about contests. There are other tactics that people can utilize without integrating a no-contest clause into their documents. Some test guitars might use a trust, while others might be more assertive about communicating their wishes to their family members. There are different tactics available depending on someone’s family dynamics and the assets they want to leave behind for others when they die.

Learning about the unique probate laws in Florida may help people who intend to create an estate plan achieve their specific goals more efficiently and effectively. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to start.