It isn’t easy challenging a will in Maryland. But if someone you cared about leaves you out of his or her will, gives you a very small share, leaves some property out of the testament, or there is any other problem, you should definitely contest it. Here’s how you can go about it.
Who can contest a will?
Only specific individuals can contest wills and trusts in Maryland. These people can do this in a probate court. The process of challenging a will is called caveat proceeding.
If you are a descendant or would have inherited the decedent’s property if he or she left no will, then you are eligible to contest a will. If you meet either one of these criteria, and you file for a caveat with the help of your attorney, then you will become the “caveator.”
The grounds for contesting a will
In Maryland, if someone leaves you out of his or her will, or you feel unsatisfied with what you have been left, unfortunately, you don’t have grounds to contest the will. However, you can challenge the will for the following reasons.
- Undue influence. If you believe that someone influenced the testator through force, coercion or other illegitimate means while he or she was writing the will and have proof to support this claim, you can successfully contest the will.
- Fraud or forgery. Also, if you believe that someone forged the will or if it was obtained through fraud, you have valid grounds to challenge it.
- A more recent will exists. If you have discovered a valid new will, you can present it to probate court to challenge the one the judge used to distribute property.
- Mental impairment. You also have valid grounds to contest a will if your loved one wrote it while mentally impaired instead of reasoning at his or her normal capacity.
Before you contest a will, talk to your lawyer and gather all the evidence to support your claim in court. And remember, you only have six months to contest a will from the day the notice was given.