When a Georgia resident contests a will, the issue of who can be an interested party as it concerns the estate of the decedent is likely to arise. It is not an issue that can be as easily addressed as it may seem. The number of interested parties may be many more than the petitioner of the will contest may have assumed. This is because interested parties are not limited to the parties who are recorded in the will.
All of the family members of the decedent are considered either actual parties or interested parties; it does not matter if they are listed or not listed as beneficiaries in the will. All of the surviving family members, as well as the parties who are included in the current will that has been submitted for probate, are considered interested parties who can take part in the litigation.
The parties that are listed in the will that is being contested are directly interested parties. These parties, as well the parties who are listed in a will before the one that is being contested, are the interested parties with the right to engage in litigation regarding the contested will. The petitioner, the party who is initiating the contestation of the will, has to recognize the interested parties who are listed in any previous will.
For probate litigation, it is important that the party contesting the will and the party defending the will both work to identify all interested parties. The interested parties have to be given notice and a chance to join the litigation if they so choose.
An attorney who takes on probate and probate litigation cases may work to ensure that the terms of a will are honored. The attorney might protect the rights of clients who are interested parties in litigation in which a will is being contested.