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In a will contest, who are the interested parties?

Let’s say that your loved one passed away recently. They left a will, but something unexpected has happened: someone came forward to challenge its validity. In addition to mourning the loss of your loved one, you now have a will contest on your hands.

You feel overwhelmed by the complex legal details that you must handle. One of the most confusing pieces of the will contest has to do with the interested parties. Who exactly is an interested party, and what does this mean?

Who or what is an interested party?

An interested party, or interested person, is someone who has the right to contest a will. Probate law dictates that the only parties who can challenge a will include:

  • Children
  • Spouses
  • Relatives
  • Devisees
  • Creditors
  • Beneficiaries of a prior or subsequent will

When someone decides to contest a will, it is necessary to identify all interested parties. This task can be complicated. The process sometimes uncovers more interested persons than the party that initiated the will contest anticipated.

Is it really necessary to find every interested party?

When someone decides to contest a will, they may hope to inherit the lion’s share of the estate. They may not want to identify every interested party for fear of diluting their inheritance. As the defender of the will, you may not want to identify the interested persons, either. After all, why exacerbate an already complex situation by getting more people involved?

However, California law stipulates that you and the person challenging the will must identify the standing of all parties. They have the right to be identified so that they can join the litigation if they wish. Finding the interested persons is a challenging feat, but you are legally required to do it.