Maryland Estate Litigation
When it comes to Maryland estate litigation, it is important that you know the parties involved and what their role is. This is why it is wise to reach out to a seasoned trusts and estates lawyer. An attorney could help guide you through the Maryland estate litigation process while keeping your best interests in mind. Call today to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable legal professional.
Role of a Guardian
A guardian is basically a person who is responsible for another individual. The court system is set up to handle the appointment of guardians for people of all ages depending on what their needs are. The guardian has many duties. When someone is appointed as a guardian, they have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the person. This includes healthcare, financial, and property decisions.
A guardian cannot waste the property or allow it to be wasted or mismanaged by someone else. They have to make claims on behalf of the person in what is called a fiduciary capacity. They have a heightened obligation to take care of the property of the person in their charge. They have to report to the court as to what they do with the property on regular intervals so that the court can keep track and make sure the guardian is serving the court’s needs. A guardian is essentially an arm of the court.
Will caveat is the term for a will contest in Maryland that challenges the validity of the will. It is a cause of action that a person brings after someone has died and there is a will that has been submitted. A person may contest whether it was actually a reflection of what the person wanted. For more information about a will caveat, consult with a seasoned attorney who is knowledgeable about Maryland estate litigation.
Testamentary capacity is the capacity an individual needs in order to be able to validly create a will. They generally have to understand what it is they are doing, who they are giving their property to, and what the property consists of as the threshold.
If a person believes that the person making the will did not have a testamentary capacity, it is best to file for guardianship or conservatorship. That person can make decisions so that the person is protected. If after the person dies, a person believes that the will was not a reflection of the individual’s capacity, then they have to file a will contest or will caveat to have the will nullified. The individual must argue that the other person lacked capacity when they executed the will and it is not valid.
Undue influence is the pressure the third party put on someone who is creating a will to get them to do something in the will that is not a reflection of natural intention. If someone believes that the person making the will is being unduly influenced by someone else, they should get a guardian or conservator for the person, if they are still alive. If the person has died, then the will has to be challenged. This can be difficult as it is presumed that a will is valid.
Another important aspect of Maryland estate litigation is fiduciary duties. Fiduciary duties are heightened duties that people or institutions are owed to people. They are obligated to be honest and careful with the individual and property. The individual has to be candid with the person they are caring for. A guardian must manage a person and their property with extra care and in the best interest of the individual.
Trustees and personal representatives owe fiduciary duties to not just beneficiaries, but also to the people they are caring for. This may include the estate and heirs. There are secondary beneficiaries sometimes, but the trustee does not owe them the same duties.
A beneficiary of a trust has the right to information from the trustee as to how the trust is being managed. They have the right to see the trust document so they can see what their rights are underneath that trust agreement. The beneficiary may force the trustee to take certain actions depending upon what the trustee is doing. Sometimes they can use their own interest in the trust to secure assets. It depends on what the trust document says.
If a person thinks that the trustee of the trust is misappropriating or wasting trust assets, they can bring an action to demand an accounting to remove the trustee. They can also get reimbursed for all of what they believe they lost as a result of the trustee’s bad acts.
For more information about Maryland estate litigation and how an attorney could help you, call today.