Common Types of Disputes in Maryland Probate
The probate process has a reputation for being lengthy and contentious. Heirs and potential heirs have the ability to defend their legal rights during this process, which can result in complex legal arguments and necessitate the need to appear in court.
It is essential that testators and potential heirs understand the common types of disputes in Maryland probate. This can help them avoid these complications in the future and recognize when they may need to initiate a case in court. If you are involved in a probate case, a knowledgeable lawyer could help you better understand your rights as well as what may happen in the event of a dispute.
Arguments Concerning the Authenticity of Wills and Other Testamentary Documents
The main purpose of probate is for the orphan’s court to validate the authenticity of a will and to ensure its proper administration. The preliminary step in this process is to determine the legality of a will.
The Annotated Code of Maryland, Estates and Trusts § 4-102 states that a will should be in writing, contain the signature of the testator, and include the signatures of at least two witnesses. Potential heirs who are written out of a will could attempt to dispute the authenticity of a will by arguing that it does not meet these legal requirements.
There are other ways that someone could argue the validity of a will. For instance, fraud on the part of a third party in submitting the will to the court or alterations to a will without the testator’s knowledge are sufficient grounds for the orphan’s court to declare the document invalid. Similarly, parties may submit a will to the court that claims to supersede a prior document. An attorney in Maryland could provide more information about potential disputes concerning will formation and validity.
Disputes Concerning the Role of the Personal Representative
To ensure the proper administration of an estate, the orphan’s court empowers a personal representative to take temporary control of the estate’s assets. This requires the representative to pay the decedent’s debts and distribute property according to the terms of the will. Whether the representative has properly served in this role is another main source of disputes during Maryland probate.
Personal representatives have significant power under the law. This includes the ability to open bank accounts for the estate and take temporary ownership of assets. The law makes these parties fiduciaries, meaning that they must act only in the interests of the estate and are personally liable for any losses or damages. A Maryland probate lawyer could take the lead in pursuing lawsuits demanding compensation for these losses or defending personal representatives against allegations of misconduct.
Consult a Maryland Lawyer on the Common Types of Probate Disputes
Probate can be an important aspect of your financial future. Whether you are a named heir in a will, nominated as a personal representative to an estate, or are a family member written out of a will, it is essential to understand how probate works and the potential complications that may arise.
A Maryland probate attorney could help you to understand your legal position. This can include evaluating testamentary documents for authenticity, explaining the role of a personal representative, and pursuing any necessary legal action to protect your rights. Learn more about the common types of disputes during Maryland probate by speaking with a lawyer today.