Contesting a Maryland will can be a complicated process. A will contest is often done through a caveat proceeding. There is a time for a caveat proceeding after – it is usually six months – an estate is opened, then that will can be caveated. A caveat or the challenge can be served for any number of reasons. It can occur because the individual has a new last will and testament since the most recent last will and testament has not been presented, but rather a prior will has been presented for probate. It can occur because there has been fraud or undue influence, or both.
These are some of the reasons that the individual thinks that the last will and testament is not valid or should not be recognized. There are a number of reasons that a will challenge could occur. Talk to a professional Maryland wills lawyer to learn about these reasons and other factors in contesting a will.
Litigation of Contesting Will
A litigation on a contested will in Maryland can be quite expensive both for the estate and the individual. If an individual is the challenger and is an heir, then they often pay their own attorneys out of pocket, but the personal representative will use the estate funds to defend the will or defend the challenge. In the event that the challenger is also a beneficiary, unfortunately, the distribution that they would have received is now being used to fight the challenge.
The challenge and the type of litigation will in part greatly depend on what is being challenged or what provisions there are, or the nature of the challenge. It can often be determined by the parties involved. If the parties involved are standing on principle or aiming to get their day in court or something like that then the cost of litigation can be quite expensive because it can go on for some time.
Contesting a Will
There are a number of reasons an individual may contest a will in Maryland. One reason may be that they do not believe that the last will and testament is valid. An interested person may disagree with what the testator left in the distribution. An individual may also think that the will was created as a result of undue influence or fraud or another factor. There are several different reasons why an individual may wish to challenge a last will and testament.
Reasons Contesting Could Work and Fail
Whether contesting a will can work or fail depends on the facts of the case and a challenge to a will can be difficult because the burden of proof lies with the challenger. The assumption is that a will is valid. If they want the will that has been executed pursuant to the terms of Maryland law, there is a presumption that the will is valid.
The challenger has the burden to prove that a will is not valid. Often in these cases, it is difficult to find evidence to reflect or prove the challenge. There are many cases where there is no evidence to show that undue influence has occurred or that fraud has occurred as it can be complicated too, in some cases, to win the case. It really depends on the facts of the case.
There are a number of ways that an attorney can attempt to bolster a will against contesting in Maryland. In some cases, it may be if it is a question of disinheritance, then the attorney may write in the will that the individual has been purposefully disinherited. They may make sure that they have copious notes in the file to show why the testator wanted to disinherit an individual. Another way that lawyers sometimes work to bolster the will against the challenge is to be sure that the will is signed without any individual, any other related individuals in the room, the attorney and the witnesses and a notary and the testator are present.
It depends on what the nature of the last will and testament is and what issues can be seen or planned for in advance, which also helps an attorney proceed to bolster a will against the challenge. An attorney could bolster a will against possible challenge so that the testator’s wishes are reflected. For example, a testator then has to make changes with the original document attorney and not have the standing to bring a claim of their own and would be barred to the correction or challenging of the will. It would still require the standing of somebody who is a beneficiary or an heir or somebody who has the standing to challenge the last will and testament.
Further Contesting a Will
There are a number of reasons why a will could be contested in Maryland. They may be undue influence. It might be that the will is invalid. They may be that there is a new will presented. It could be that a will has been drafted under fraud or that the testator’s signature in the will is not actually the testator’s signature. There are going to be a number of reasons that a will is caveated and/or challenged.
Who Lawyer Works For
Who the lawyer works for depends on the challenge and the nature of the case. The original drafting attorney may no longer be a part of the challenge. The original attorney may serve as a witness in the challenge, but they may no longer be representing anybody other than serving as a witness.
The attorney that works for the estate would work on behalf of the personal representative to defend the challenge. The attorney that works for the challenger will work for the challenger to overcome that burden of proof to prove that the will should be invalid in whole or in part.
How an Attorney Can Help
An attorney can only work to contest a will in Maryland if an interested party wishes to challenge the will. It requires a challenger in order for an attorney to work to change a last will and testament. If you need assistance with contesting a Maryland will, contact an experienced lawyer today.