If you live in Maryland and you are creating an estate plan, it may be helpful to think through any potential conflicts that the plan may raise. This can help you take steps to ensure that your wishes are clear and to consider any other precautions. One of the things that it can be helpful to know is who is able to contest your will.
Who has standing?
Legally, a person who has the ability to contest a will is said to have “standing.” Essentially, these are people who are either immediate family members or who were named in a previous version of the will. The former are those who would have inherited something if there had been no will at all, generally the spouse, children and grandchildren. This might be expanded to other family members if there are no descendants and no spouse. The latter includes both beneficiaries and anyone who had fiduciary duty, such as an executor who was replaced in a subsequent will.
Contesting a will
The ways in which this might play out practically might be someone failing to leave anything to one of several children or only to children but not a spouse. It is important to understand that the ability to challenge a will does not necessarily mean that challenge will be successful, and individuals can include what is known as a “no contest clause” to make a challenge less appealing. This could be useful if a beneficiary is left something but not as much as they expected and means that if their challenge is unsuccessful they will forfeit everything.
Reducing family conflicts is one important reason to create an estate plan in the first place. Communicating with loved ones about the contents of the estate plan may also prevent conflict and misunderstanding. It is important to keep family dynamics in mind throughout this process.