When an estate goes to probate in Pennsylvania, one of the possible risks is that someone can contest the will or file some other type of litigation. If this happens, their challenge can go all the way to a hearing and adds time to the process. As a result, you may be concerned about whether someone has the right to file a lawsuit. If you need to intervene legally, you may be wondering about whether you have the right.
Being an interested party is a requirement
In order to be a part of probate proceedings, you must be considered an interested party. This is generally defined as someone whose economic interest is affected by the court process. This includes creditors who have probate as their last opportunity to be paid back their debts. It also encompasses people in the will or other close family members that have been included in previous versions of the will.
Interested party status can always be challenged
However, the category of interested parties is not unlimited. If someone is seeking the right to become a part of probate, the court will usually consider any challenges to someone’s interested party status at the beginning of the proceedings. You would have to state why you are an interested party in your filing for the court’s consideration. If the court decides that you are not an interested party, they will not listen to the substance of your arguments no matter what they are.
Many people need help during the probate process because they find the rules to be arcane and technical. You should consider hiring a probate litigation attorney if the will is contested and heading towards a trial. Your lawyer could represent your interests in either challenging the will or defending it from the contest. In a best-case scenario, the attorney may help negotiate a settlement that keeps the case from going to trial.