Can You Sue Your Family for Inheritance? Understanding Your Rights

Have you been wrongfully prevented from receiving an inheritance you were entitled to? Or are you an heir facing threats of unjustified lawsuits from estranged relatives? Inheritance disputes can divide families and get emotions running high.

Yet there are clear laws around legal rights to estate distributions – whether via wills or as next-of-kin. In this blog, we’ll cut through the complex legalese to explain inheritance rights in plain terms.

You’ll learn whether you have grounds to pursue litigation against family members denying you an inheritance, what lawsuit strategies apply, and how strong your case could be.

Who Has Legal Standing to Contest a Will or Trust in Florida?

Under Florida probate law, only “interested parties” like children, spouses, heirs, and creditors have standing to challenge a will or trust. To contest a will, you must prove you are an heir or beneficiary, or would inherit under intestacy laws if no will existed.

According to the Florida probate code, interested parties can contest a will if they have evidence of:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity due to mental incompetence
  • Undue influence or fraud
  • Discovery of a newer will
  • Insufficient witnesses
  • Invalid provisions under Florida law

Contesting a trust also requires proof you are a qualified beneficiary. Probate litigation lawyers can determine if you have legal standing before initiating a lawsuit.

Inheritance Rights of Surviving Spouses in Florida

A surviving spouse’s inheritance rights depend on whether Florida recognizes the marriage as a common law or community property union. Community property states presume all assets acquired during marriage are jointly owned. But Florida utilizes common law, which grants a surviving spouse certain elective share rights.

Under Florida probate law, a surviving spouse is entitled to 30% of the deceased spouse’s estate. Additional entitlements may result from prenuptial agreements, jointly owned property, or payable-on-death accounts. Probate attorneys help surviving spouses understand their inheritance rights.

When Can Children Legally Contest a Parent’s Will in Florida?

Children can challenge a parent’s will if they believe:

  • After-born children were unintentionally omitted
  • The will is outdated and no longer reflects the parent’s wishes
  • The parent lacked mental capacity when writing the will
  • Someone manipulated the parent to disinherit heirs

However, children do not have an automatic right to inherit. Probate litigation lawyers guide families through contentious estate disputes. They aim to resolve matters through mediation if possible to avoid damaging relationships.

What Are the Most Common Grounds for Contesting a Will in Florida?

In our experience guiding clients through inheritance disputes, some of the most common grounds for contesting a Florida will include:

  • Lack of Testamentary Capacity: This claims the testator lacked a sound mind and legal capacity when writing the will due to mental illness, dementia, intoxication, or undue influence.
  • Undue Influence or Fraud: This alleges someone manipulated the testator or forged the will to change inheritance against the testator’s true wishes.
  • Newer Will Exists: A newer will or codicil that revokes portions of the contested will may exist. The most recent valid will controls asset distribution.
  • Insufficient Witnesses: Florida requires wills to be signed by two witnesses. Lack of proper witnesses can nullify a will.
  • Invalid Provisions: Wills that attempt to make illegal bequests or disinherit spouses illegally may be partially or fully contested.

Before initiating a lawsuit against the family, consider these alternatives:

  • Mediation – A neutral third-party can help resolve disputes through compromise.
  • Caveat – Filing a caveat puts heirs on notice and may lead to a negotiated settlement.
  • Family Counseling – Grief counseling can help repair relationships damaged by estate conflicts.

An estate planning attorney helps weigh the pros and cons of suing relatives versus utilizing alternatives. They aim to resolve matters fairly and preserve family ties.

Don’t Go It Alone – Contact a Florida Family Law Today

Losing a loved one is hard enough without the added stress of inheritance disputes. The experienced attorneys at Stivers Law are here to help Florida families resolve estate conflicts.

Reach out to their Coral Gables office at for trusted guidance. They can help you protect your inheritance rights while avoiding unnecessary family strife.