People in Massachusetts prepare wills to explain how they want their money and possessions distributed among beneficiaries. In some situations, one or more people or entities may contest a will when they think that they have been unfairly excluded or have other issues with the terms of the document. At the beginning of the challenge, the primary question is who has standing to contest the will in the first place. Also known as interested parties, people with standing may proceed with a challenge, but they must also inform all interested parties about the legal action.
Determination of interested parties
The people or entities named in the current will have standing as interested parties. Beyond the people whose names appear in the document, family members of the deceased not named in the will also have the status of interested parties.
Previous versions of the will
It is not uncommon for people to update their wills during their lives. For this reason, a previous will could name different people than the current will. People named in a previous version but absent from the current will also count as interested parties. All of them must receive notice should you choose to challenge a will in court.
Reason for notification requirements
Wills go to probate to settle the estate in a public forum. The probate court ensures the estate pays off all old debts and taxes before distributing assets to heirs.
The law requires you to notify all interested parties to the will when you contest it so that they can decide how to proceed. Some interested parties may wish to exercise their option to join the litigation as either challengers or defenders of the will.