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If an old will can be shown to no longer reflect the wishes of the deceased, can it be successfully challenged, if necessary?

Miami, FL |

My sister, 74, died recently. Childless and widowed in 1994, she had only one close relative: me. Her will, done in 2000, left her house to her then live-in boyfriend, who moved after their 2004 break-up. He won't return my calls, so I'm clueless about his intentions. He's aware the house is "underwater." The attorney assigned as personal rep refused the case, as the estate has little value and there's no fee payer. The will includes two friends who died several years ago. My sister knew it needed updating but, as a champion procrastinator, saw no urgency to deal with such unpleasantness. When my lady died in 2004, she asked me to move in, as we truly needed each other. I know she'd want me to remain here if I can arrange it financially. Many of her friends have offered to testify to that.

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Best answer

    The probate court enforces the Last Will. The court will not change a Will that the decedent herself did not change. You have no legal basis to challenge the document based on the facts you describe. Your friends testimony as to what the decedent would want is inadmissible and irrelevant.

    In any event, the estate has no money and the real estate is underwater. It would be a waste of money to challenge the will even if you could. Successful will contests are expensive.

  2. Hire counsel to see if a challenge can be made

  3. The Will stands. Oral expressions of intent are not enforceable. I do not see any basis for contesting the Will under these facts.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!

  4. There is presumption that a valid Last Will reflects the decedent's last wishes. In order to preserve the integrity of wills in general, the courts do not allow testimony as to the decedent's changed or newer wishes, as this would make almost every will into a will contest. In your case, it's possible that you can buy the house as it's underwater and no one seems to want it.

    Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.

  5. If the Last Will was valid (two witnesses, etc.) and there is no new Will, then you will be wasting your money if you hire an attorney to see if it can be challenged - it can't. Not in FL. Not based on the information here. Sorry!

    Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A. : (727) 647-6645 : : Wills, Trusts, Real Property, Probate, Special Needs: Information provided here is anecdotal and should not be relied upon or considered legal advice. Every matter is different and answers given here are general in nature and may not reflect current Florida law at the time you are reading this posting. Please contact me if you feel you need additional assistance with your matter.

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