This post is a commentary on the Florida Will Reformation statute. Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 732.615, anyone with an interest in someone’s Will has a legal right to challenge the plain language of the Will in seeking to reform the Will. This creates voluminous nightmare scenarios where friends, family members, acquaintances and complete strangers may be allowed to completely disrupt the probate process by claiming the deceased intended to leave that person all or a portion of the deceased’s property.
The language of the Will Reformation Statute states that even if the terms of the Will are perfectly clear, any interested person may seek to “reform” the Will by claiming the Testator intended something other than what is stated in the Will. The Statute undermines hundreds of years of Probate Law requiring very exacting Will execution standards. For instance, in Florida a Will must be executed in the presence of two or more Witnesses and the Witnesses must sign in each other’s presence. To amend your Will you cannot simply scratch through a provision, initial the change and add additional language. Why then does the Florida Statute allow a Court to, in essence, scratch through a change in your Will and rewrite it despite any ambiguity in the Will?
It leaves Testator’s and Estate Planning attorneys alike wondering whether it might not be better to simply die intestate. Dying intestate would preclude any interested party from claiming a portion or all of the deceased’s estate.