After a will is filed with the probate court in Florida, an interested party can object to the legal document. A will contest is a challenge to a purported will based on various reasons why the court should invalidate it. Since multiple parties might have a legal interest in the estate, each interested party must be notified about the will contest so that they can participate in the process.
What is an interested party?
In the context of a will contest, an interested party is any person or entity that may have a legal interest in the decedent’s estate and the distribution of assets. This includes all parties named in the will that is being challenged. However, the interested parties include more parties than those named in the will under a challenge. They also include all of those who were named in a previous will and the family members who might stand to inherit assets through the state’s intestacy laws if the court invalidates the will. To challenge a will, the person filing the petition must also be an interested party.
Why do the interested parties have to be notified?
Florida requires the person filing the petition to contest a will to notify each interested party so that everyone who might have a legal interest in the state will have an opportunity to be heard. The notice requirement allows an interested party to challenge the will contest and participate in the probate litigation process. They can also present evidence and contest the evidence the petitioner tries to admit in court. If the petitioner fails to notify the interested parties, the court will not allow the will contest to proceed. The notice requirement is designed to protect the legal rights of every person or charitable organization that might have an interest in the decedent’s estate.
To win a will contest, a petitioner must show the will is legally invalid. Since a person’s last will is generally considered to represent their last wishes, it can be difficult to overcome the presumption of validity. In addition to meeting the notice requirements, the person filing the contest will need to have strong evidence the court should deem it to be invalid.