When a will goes into probate in California, most events about it happen predictably, if slowly. However, sometimes a person will dispute the validity of the will. This is called a will contest and, eventually, can involve many people.
When a will contest happens, the court needs to notify all interested parties. Interested parties include everyone who might be affected if the court says the will is false. This includes everyone named in the will, but can expand to include others with interests if the will contest succeeds.
Who are interested parties?
According to the California Supreme Court, an interested party is “one who has such an interest as may be impaired or defeated by the probate of the will, or benefited by setting it aside.” If the will contest succeeds, the will is put aside.
In a will contest, all family members are potential (or actual) interested parties. Even if the will doesn’t name them directly, statutes may make them beneficiaries if the court strikes the will.
Parties to the contested will
Anyone named in the will is an interested party. Either keeping the will or putting it aside may impinge their interests.
Parties to other wills
Parties to other wills written by the recently departed may be parties to the contest as well. The will contest does not judge the validity of other wills, and later the court may name any of these wills right one.
It is important to get all these people together when a will contest happens. It is better to include potential parties than exclude actual parties, so think broadly and include everyone.