Not everyone has the ability to participate in a Florida will contest. In order to challenge a will or to defend against a challenge, one must be an interested party. At some point, courts will draw a line and keep some people out of the proceedings.
When an estate is going through probate, interested parties are informed of the legal developments in the case. Courts will generally define an interested party as someone who has a required economic interest in the will. This will always include people who are listed in the will. It may also include immediate family members who are left out of the will. Creditors are also interested parties because probate represents their last chance to be paid the money that they are owed by the estate. However, if the universe of interested parties were unlimited, it would make probate an unwieldy process that would be impossible to control.
Whether one is an interested party is usually determined at the outset of the probate process. Those that are seeking to contest the will would need to show the court that their economic interest is sufficient that they can participate. Other parties may oppose their participation in probate. If the court determines that one is not an interested party, that ends their ability to be a part of the probate process. The court will then not listen to the merits of their argument.
Will contests can be litigious and difficult affairs, especially when there is a significant amount of money at stake. Those with a financial interest should consult with a will contests attorney to learn more about how these proceedings are conducted. The attorney could represent their interests in probate court and may negotiate with the other parties in an attempt to settle the dispute outside the court.