Probate can slow the timeframe in which the estate’s assets are distributed. The process itself takes some time and can be further delayed when there is litigation. What is unsettling for many Tennessee families is that the universe of people who can file lawsuits is broad. However, not everyone would be able to initiate a court challenge.
Pursuing litigation in probate court
In order to file a lawsuit in probate, one must be considered an interested party. This means that they need to have an economic interest that is affected by the probate proceeding. This would clearly include immediate family members. The designation would also allow creditors to file a lawsuit since they are owed money by the estate. However, there are limits to who may be considered an interested party. Distant family relatives or those who were not included in multiple versions of the will could be kept out of court.
The judge will generally rule on whether someone is an interested party at the outset of the probate process. If they ultimately determine that one is not able to intervene in court, the judge will not even hear the merits of what they have to say. It will be up to each person to demonstrate that they are an interested party. These types of legal challenges would further add time to what is already a lengthy process for the families.
Hiring a probate attorney is a necessity if there is a possibility of a contested will. This is even more crucial if another person has hired their own attorney. Probate can be a tricky process with many rules of its own that people do not know. The attorney could represent their client’s interests throughout the process. The lawyer may even be able to help their client avoid litigation by negotiating a solution to any disputes.