Disinheritance is one of the most complex and contentious topics in probate law. The unexpected disinheritance of a spouse or close family member is an extremely difficult situation for all parties involved, but for those left out of a will, the good news is that Florida law provides a degree of recourse.
A disinherited family member may have grounds for legal action if he or she has what is known in probate law as “standing.” A person holds standing if:
- He or she is an “heir,” or direct natural relative of the decedent
- He or she was included in an earlier version of the decedent’s will, but eliminated from the final version
Litigation may be possible if another heir exercised undue influence over the decedent, convincing him or her to disinherit one or more of the other beneficiaries. Similarly, if the decedent met with foul play after changing his or her will, or if any other questionable activity took place, disinherited heirs may have grounds to file a lawsuit.
Another contestable situation arises when a will contains an “interorum clause.” An interorum clause occurs when an heir is given a disproportionately small share of the total estate, and a stipulation in the will states that if that heir challenges the will, they get nothing. Interorum clauses are invalid under Florida law, and if a will contains one, the heir named in the clause can challenge the will.
Disinherited spouses are also entitled to what is known as an “elective share” of the estate, or one-third of the probate assets. If you’re a disinherited heir or spouse, it is strongly recommended that you retain legal counsel if you want to challenge the existing will. The experienced probate attorneys at Pollack Pollack & Kogan are here to assist you. To discuss the particulars of your situation, contact Pollack Pollack & Kogan by email at info@PPKfirm.com, or call 305-373-9676.