When an estate is going through probate in Florida, there are a number of things that can slow the process. The biggest risk of probate is the fact that someone may file a lawsuit. This obviously adds quite a bit of time to the process and can slow the distribution of the estate property. You should know that the universe of people who can file a lawsuit is broad but not unlimited.

Only interested parties can participate in probate

In order to file a lawsuit or participate in the probate process, you must be an interested party. This means that you have some sort of economic interest in the proceedings that would be affected by what happens. Certainly, creditors are interested parties since they must be paid from the estate. Family members may also be interested parties. Those who are named in the will or those who appeared in previous versions of the will would be interested parties.

The court may hold a hearing to decide

Whether someone is an interested party would be determined by the court at the outset of the proceedings. The judge will hold a hearing to decide whether someone can participate in the process. If the court determines that someone is not an interested party, they will not hear the merits of whatever it is they have to say.

If an estate is going to probate and there are legal issues to be decided by the court, you may need legal representation if you are an interested party. The need for a probate attorney is even more pronounced when there may be hostile litigation. An estate planning attorney may help look out for your interests in the case, whatever they are. If other interested parties have their own lawyers, you may need one too.