IDENTIFYING THE INTERESTED PARTIES IN PROBATE LEGISLATION
When a will is contested in California, a question comes up as to who the interested parties are with regards to the estate. At first glance, the answer to this question might seem clear-cut. However, after more investigation is done, it may come to light that there are a number of interested parties, many of which the individual or individuals initiating the will contest might not have even known about or anticipated. The interested parties are not confined to individuals who are listed in the last will and testament.
As a general rule, potential interested parties include all of the deceased's family members. This is true even if they are not included as beneficiaries in the last will and testament. Additionally, every individual or every party listed in the last will and testament that is being considered for probate are also included in the list of interested parties in the litigation.
It is easier to identify the latter group as their names are clearly listed in the will that's being challenged. If there is an older version of the will with a different list of names or a different list of parties, these individuals could possibly be included in the list of interested parties. For this reason, it can take some time to identify who all of the interested parties are.
Once a will is contested, the individuals who are contesting the will as well as those who are defending the will need to assist in identifying all of the interested parties. This will allow time for the interested parties to be given notice as well as provide the opportunity to participate in the litigation process if that is their desire.
An attorney who specializes in estate planning may help clients by representing the executor of a will or the trustee of the trust. The attorney may also represent the beneficiary of a will if that will is being challenged.