When a person dies without a will in Florida, that person’s assets will be passed to the person’s spouse and/or family members in accordance with Florida law. When someone does have a will, that will must be filed in probate court before any assets are distributed, which gives any family members not named in the will a chance to challenge the validity of the will.
Other people who can contest a will include beneficiaries who are named in the will and creditors who were owed money by the deceased. Additionally, if the decedent had multiple wills over his or her lifetime, beneficiaries of the older wills could contest the new will. The individuals who have standing to contest a will are known as “interested parties.”
Any interested party can file probate litigation to dispute the validity of a will. When an interested party files probate litigation, all other interested parties have to be given notice of the litigation and given an opportunity to participate.
Litigating a will can make the probate process take years to complete, but it is, sometimes, necessary to prevent an unscrupulous person or group from obtaining assets to which they are not entitled. For instance, someone may have used undue influence to coerce the decedent to change his or her will at the end of his or her life. It is also possible that the will was changed when the decedent was not of sound mind, which could have made the person more susceptible to being defrauded. Individuals who think that someone they love has been taken advantage of or defrauded in the making or revising of a will may want to consult with a probate and trust litigation attorney.