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While some things in life are well-suited to do-it-yourself projects, legal issues typically are not an area people want to risk as the stakes can be high if the law is not followed. Trying to navigate the legal world can be difficult. Laws often vary greatly from one jurisdiction to the next and legal terminology can be incredibly confusing. Sooner or later, most people will eventually need the services of an attorney. We created this website to provide readers information about a wide range of legal issues. From estate planning to family law to real estate transactions, general attorneys provide the professional services many people need.



Explore General Legal Issues

Does Probate Mean There Will Be A Lawsuit?

by Ralph Griffin

Sending an issue regarding an estate to a probate court seems like a big step. You might wonder whether this means there will be a lawsuit. Here is a look at whether that's the case and how things might unfold once probate law enters the picture.

Probate Covers All Estates

In the strictest view of the law, every estate goes through some level of probate proceedings. The big difference is that many cases only have cursory contact with the court. Generally, this part of the legal system handles basic probate law questions, such as making sure the administration of the estate has posted proper public notice and contacted affected parties. These are usually issues that never call for a lawsuit, but they do make their way to a probate court nonetheless.

Administrative Concerns

When there is an administrative problem with an estate, the court may intervene. Once more, this doesn't necessitate anyone suing anybody else. For example, a judge might have to appoint someone to assume the role of the executor. This may happen if an executor gets severely ill and can't fulfill the job. In the absence of a named successor to the executor, the court might have to address the situation and appoint someone.

Resolving Ambiguities

The court is also available to address questions about the ambiguous language in the documents governing an estate. You might want to hire a probate law attorney in this scenario, even though it doesn't always mean you're lawyering up to sue.

Sometimes several beneficiaries might have questions about ambiguous terms, and the executor might not be able to resolve them, either. Under such circumstances, a judge may need to rule. However, don't be surprised if the court remands the issue to the executor and tells them to handle it. That does at least resolve the question of who should decide, though.


This is where the risk of litigation goes up significantly. Notably, it may still be possible for each side to have their probate law attorney meet with the other sides to sort things out. Lawsuits usually don't move forward until there are major concerns, such as claims of undue influence in the writing of a will before the grantor died. Similar concerns might arise if someone believes the grantor was mentally unfit at the time they set up or modified the estate. Even then, the court will strongly encourage everyone to negotiate a solution by working with each other and the executor.