Depends of the state that probate is to be filed in. Some states require an attorney to file probate. It may be a good idea to visit and attorney early in the process if the estate is complex. A lawyer can help you meet all deadlines and avoid mistakes and delays.
A lawyer can sometimes help avoid disagreements among family members over minor or major issues. But the lawyer represents the interests of the personal representative, not the beneficiaries.
You may not need a lawyer if:
Your state allow for no-attorney filling of probate
you are the sole beneficiary,
the decedent's property consists of common assets (like house, bank accounts, insurance, etc.)
the Will is simple and straightforward, and
you have access to good Self Service materials.
In most cases, the personal representative may never see the inside of a courtroom. But, s/he will have to go to the Court Clerk's office.
Only a person with "standing" can contest a Will. This means the person must have a personal financial stake in the outcome.
Examples of people with standing to contest a Will are:
a child or spouse who was cut out of the Will
a child who receives one third of the estate if a sibling receives two thirds,
children who feel that the local charity should not get all the parent’s assets,
anyone who was treated more favorably in an earlier Will.
Sometimes, there is a Will contest because someone wants a different person, bank, or trust company to serve as personal representative for the estate, or as a trustee of trusts created by the Will. Seek the advice of a probate litigation attorney.
Most challenges to Wills are by potential heirs or beneficiaries who got little or nothing. Will contests must be filed in Probate court within a certain number of days after receiving notice of the death, or petition to admit the Will to probate, or issuance of Letters Testamentary to a personal representative.
Examples of reasons to challenge a Will are:
there is a later Will which, if valid, would replace the earlier Will;
the Will was made at a time the decedent was not mentally competent to make a Will;
the Will was the result of fraud, mistake or "undue influence";
the Will was not properly "executed" (signed by the decedent);
the so-called Will is actually a forgery;
for some other reason (such as a pre-existing contract) the Will is invalid.
If there is a Will contest, you should hire an experienced attorney.
The probate court may invalidate all of the Will or only the challenged portion. If the entire Will is found invalid, the proceeds will probably be distributed according to the state laws of intestacy, unless there is a prior revoked Will that is revived and admitted to probate.