Florida law limits the chances of interfering with someone’s last wishes and ensures that their chosen administrator distributes their estate the way they intended. However, it also recognizes that there can be disputes over whether the will is valid. In such cases, a person can file a petition in court for a hearing to determine if the will in question is legitimate. But only a few people have this right.
Standing, also referred to as locus standi, refers to a party’s legal status as having the ability to bring a lawsuit. In will contests, it means someone has the right to challenge the terms of a will and argue for its invalidity.
In Florida, only certain people have standing in will contests. They are:
- The testator (the person who wrote the contested will)
- The personal representatives of the estate
- Any person named in the will or codicil
- Any person with a material interest in its outcome
- Heirs, next-of-kin and beneficiaries of the testator’s prior wills
Establishing a standing
To establish standing, you must demonstrate a vested interest in the case’s outcome and that its results can harm you. You must also demonstrate that you would benefit from a different result or consequence.
Additionally, the probate court may consider other factors when determining if you have a standing, such as whether you were aware of the contents of the will prior to filing its objection and how long after it became aware. For instance, the court may not grant standing if you waited more than 90 days after filing the Notice of Administration to file a petition.
Understanding your standing and legal rights is the key to successfully contesting a will in Florida. It’s important to meticulously evaluate whether your potential benefits from a different will outcome outweigh the complexities and potential stress of a court case. Ensure to stay informed, be proactive, and make the choices that are right for you.