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What is a Will Contest?

A will contest is a challenge to the admission of a will to probate. Unlike some other states, Florida does not have a separate court for probate cases. In other words, there is no “Probate Court” per se. A probate case is merely a civil case filed in the circuit court. The case is opened by filing a petition seeking admission of the will to probate. The petition can be filed by any interested person.

“Contesting” the will means objecting to its admission to probate. “Admission to probate” is a confusing label for what takes place. The issue is not the same as issues involved in admission of testimony or papers into evidence. Rather, “admission to probate” means that the court accepts the validity of the will. It then becomes the obligation of the personal representative (also known as the executor or executrix) to carry out the terms of the will in accordance with the testator’s intent.

A will may be contested even after it is admitted to probate. It is more difficult to contest the will if it has already been admitted, and there are time limits for doing so. But it can be done if the circumstances are right.

Dennis Shea