The purpose of this article is to explain the concept of “standing” in probate and guardianship actions, to discuss how the topic should be raised, and to provide some specificexamples of situations where the standing of a potential party must be addressed.
The Estates Code replaced the Probate Code on January 1, 2014, and that poses a major problem when writing about probate topics. Almost all of the cases cited below were decided prior to January 1, 2014, and that means that all internal citations in those cases are to the nowrepealed Probate Code. Because of that issue, quotes from those older cases have been updated in this paper to refer to the new Estates Code. It should be noted, however, that an examination of the old case beyond what is described in this paper will obviously reference the Probate Code. In other words, all probate practitioners will be dealing with intense “translation” problems for many years to come.
This topic will discuss the two-step tests that should be used by a court in probate and guardianship cases when a challenge to a party’s standing is raised. The second step in each area – whether a person is disqualified to serve as either executor or guardian – will be mentioned only in passing. Instead, this paper will focus on the first step in each area – whether an action has been filed/contested by an “interested person” in a probate matter or by a person with an “adverse interest” in a guardianship matter.
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