Courts usually respect the terms in a valid will. It is difficult in most situations to change anything about a will after someone has died.

However, there are some situations in which the court might consider a will contest. One of these might be if the decedent had been the victim of elder abuse.

Florida state law on will contests

The Florida Probate Code could recognize certain instances of elder abuse to change the way that proof behaves in a will contest. Specifically, the statute says that this might happen if an abusive event or transaction could involve undue influence.

This is important because the burden of proof is one of the reasons it is difficult to contest a will. The person who believes the document is correct would usually only need to produce evidence that it is a valid document.

Essentially, the proponent of the will does not have to prove that there was an absence of coercion, threat, scam or other influence. It would be up to the person who opposes the will to establish that these things could be presumed to have happened. Then, the proponent of the will might have to do some work.

Difficulty proving elder abuse

There is no question that the abuse of seniors happens every day. Florida even has an Elder Abuse Prevention Program to raise awareness.

The program’s goal is to prevent various types of abuse, including financial and emotional. These are the two most important categories in terms of will contests. Abusers exert undue influence for personal gain, draining the finances of elderly people and manipulating their emotions. Unfortunately, victims are often unwilling to admit — and sometimes completely unaware — that they are the targets of these nefarious schemes.

Elder abuse is difficult to resolve as an isolated dispute. When you add a probate case, it often becomes much more complex. Anyone approaching this type of situation should make adequate preparations before dedicating the legal resources necessary to win.