What is Standing in a Florida Probate?
Understanding what is standing is a key to Florida probate proceedings. Want to contest the will? Well, you need standing. Do you want financial information about the probate assets? Same comment. You need standing. We have previously discussed HEIRSHIP in Florida probates and who can CONTEST THE WILL. Let’s dig a bit deeper into this legal definition of standing in Florida probates.
The Florida Probate Code
The Florida Probate Code is found HERE in the Florida Statutes. You can read all about probate and personal representatives and accountings. But there is very little information about standing. What is standing is a legal concept. Explained and defined by the Florida Appellate Courts. Think of it as the “connection” someone must have to a lawsuit or legal matter. After all, not everyone can participate in a Florida probate. Or a lawsuit. They don’t have a right to. Some “Jane” or “Joe” can’t just walk in off the street and get involved. You need some connection to the deceased Florida resident, her property, or the people who are involved.
What is Standing Defined
In Florida probates, you have to be an “INTERESTED PERSON” to participate. An interested person means that you are going to be affected by what’s going on. Now, interested person is different than an “indispensable party.” An interested person in the Florida Probate Code means any person who may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome of the particular proceeding involved. You can read all the definitions at Florida Statute 731.201. But not standing ! This concept is, perhaps, better understood by examples. Beneficiaries under a will have standing and so do personal representatives. Heirs and spouses have it in an intestate estate where there is no will. But not all heirs or NEXT OF KIN have it when there’s a will. Beneficiaries who got cut out of the last will, but inherit under a prior will, may have it. BUT, you have to file a Petition or make a legal argument why the last will is not valid. And you have to do this in good faith with a reasonable basis for your belief. Creditors have the right to file a claim and be heard. On most things. Someone named as the personal representative under a prior will may have standing. But only if the last will is not valid. People who come in to do a will contest or to object to the will don’t have unrestrained rights. And remember, it is your job to prove standing if you are filing a Petition. Do adopted children have it? What if you are born out of wedlock ? If someone’s name is on your birth certificate, that, alone, may not be enough to get standing to contest the will.