Who Is Considered an “Interested Person” in My Estate?
A common issue in Florida estate and probate administration is determining who qualifies as an “interested person.” This is a legal term used to describe someone who may be affected by the outcome of an estate administration. An interested person has certain legal rights within the probate process, so it is important to understand who does–and does not–qualify for this status.
Florida probate law offers some broad definition of who is considered an interested person. First and foremost, the personal representative of the estate is an interested person in any proceeding involving the estate. And if the deceased individual separately created a trust as part of their estate plan, the trustee may also be an interested person.
Beyond that, anyone who “who may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome of” the probate of the estate may be deemed an interested person. This is somewhat ambiguous. Indeed, the law itself states the meaning of the term “may vary from time to time and must be determined according to” the particular facts and circumstances. But generally speaking, any person or entity that stands to benefit under the will is an interested person. So is anyone who might have a valid claim against the estate, such as a creditor of the deceased individual.
But there are other potential interested persons who are neither named beneficiaries or creditors. This may include anyone who would stand to benefit if the will is declared invalid. For instance, Florida intestacy law specifies who should inherit a person’s estate if they die without a will. So a person who would benefit under intestacy–but not the will–is considered an interested person. Additionally, if there is a competing will–say, one signed before the one under contest–the beneficiaries named in that document would also be considered interested persons.
It should be noted there is one group of individuals deliberately excluded from the definition of interested person–beneficiaries who have already “received complete distribution” from the estate.
Need Help Keeping Handling a Florida Probate Estate?
So why does it matter if someone is an “interested person”? Basically, an interested person is entitled to request information about the status of the probate case, including an inventory and accounting of the estate. Interested persons also have standing to object to these filings, and even challenge the will or the appointment of the personal representative. In other words, if you want to contest a will or participate in the probate case in any meaningful way, you must be an interested person.
Identifying and keeping track of the interested persons is a critical task for the personal representative. This is why it is helpful to work with an experienced Fort Myers probate and estate administration attorney who understands the process. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 today if you need advice or assistance in handling a Florida probate estate.